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Contents. — Introductory. — The Age of Metals. — Transition Periods. — Iron and the 
Language. — Iron as Ornament. — As Currency. — In Europe. — Iron and the Romans. — 
Do. and the Vikings. — Iron in Britain. — In India. — In Egypt. — In Palestine. — In 
Mesopotamia. — In Africa. — In China and Japan. — Iron and the New World. — Finis. — 
Name Index. — Subject Index. 

" A very pleasing account, in simple language, of a highly important aspect of early 
civilisation." — Discovery. 

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Compiled, Classified, and Described by M. L. SOLON. 

An Analytical Index to the Works Published in all Languages on the History and 
the Technology of the Ceramic Art ; also to the Catalogues of Public Museums, Private 
Collections, and of Auction Sales in which the Description of Ceramic Objects occupy 
an important place ; and to the most important Price Lists of the Ancient and Modem 
Manufactories of Pottery and Porcelain. 

" A work of inestimable value to all serious study of Ceramics." — Burlington Magazine. 

Third Edition, thoroughly Revised and Enlarged. In Large 8vo. Cloth. 
Pp. i-xxxii + 631. With 217 Illustrations, including 5 Folding Plates. 


By Prof. WM. GOWLAND, F.R.S., A.R.S.M., 

Emeritus Professor of Metallurgy at the Royal School of Mines, London. 

Contents. — Refractory Materials. — Roasting. — Fluxes and Slags. — Copper. — Lead. — 
Silver. — Gold. — Platinum. — Mercury. — Zinc. — Cadmium. — Tin. — Nickel. — Cobalt. — Anti- 
mony. — Arsenic. — Bismuth. — Aluminium. — Index. 

" A veritable classic of its kind — on the metallurgy of non-ferrous metals. Up to date. 
. . . The work will be welcomed by metallurgists." — Mining World. 

Third Edition, Thoroughly Revised. With 195 Photo -Micrographs, 
Diagrams, and Figures. 10s. 6d. 



Revised and Corrected by L. P. SIDNEY. 

Contents. — Part I. Metallography considered as a Method of Assay. — Part II. 
The Science of Polishing. — Part III. The Microscopic Analysis of Carbon Steels. — 
Appendices. — Index. 

" Of all the books which have dealt with this subject in its many aspects, surely this 
one remains supreme." — Chemical World. 



was, before the War, Superintendent of Laboratories 
at the " Citadel," Cairo. 

The first year of the war he invented, and super- 
intended, the manufacture of the '' Garland " 
grenade, sending 174,000 to the Dardanelles and 

In October, 1916, he left Cairo for Arabia, where 
he trekked in the desert disguised as an Arab, 
destroying the Turkish Railway. He was awarded 
the O.B.E., M.C., the Arabian order "El Nahdeh," 
and twice the '* Order of the Nile," and was 
mentioned in despatches several times. 

After the War he was with Lord Allenby at the 
" Residency," Cairo, as Director of the Arab Bureau. 

In 1921 he had to leave Egypt on account of ill 
health, arriving in England on March 28th. He 
died suddenly six days later, April 2nd. 



Major H. GARLAND, 

O.B.E., M.C., F.C.S., ]VJ. Inst. Metals, 
Late Superintendent of Laboratories at the "Citadel," Cairo, 


C. 0. BANNISTER, M.Eng., A.R.S.M., F.I.C, 

Professor of MetallurCxY in the University of Liverpool. 

Mitb ^frontispiece anO U3 ©tbec illustrations, ^ncluDin^ 
/iRang Ipbotos/Hbicrograpbs. 



42 DRURY LANE, W.C. 2. 


[All Bights Beserved.] 

Printed in Great Britain 
by Bell & Bain, Limited, Glasgow. 


The note attached to the Frontispiece of this volume 

tells the tragic story of the death of the distinguished 

author six days after his return from the scene of many 

years' labour. During these years in Egypt Major 

Garland had excej^tional opportunities for the collection 

and thorough examination of ancient metal specimens 

not easily obtainable by other metallurgists. Messrs. 

i],: Griffin once again have served metallurgical students 

^ by encouraging the author to put together in book form 

"" his extensive notes and critical memoranda which 

otherwise might never have been made public. Un- 

C fortunately, a chapter on Gold and Silver, intended to 

"^be included, was only represented in the Manuscript 

H- by notes too scrappy to be of any real value. 

It was a delicate task entrusted to me by the Pub- 
lishers to examine and edit the extremely interesting 
and informing notes, and give them their final arrange- 
ment for publishing, but it has proved both fascinating 
and instructive. 

The practical points brought out by this work are (1) 
The value of microscopical examination in the study of 
ancient specimens : (2) The probability of a much earlier 
iron age in Egypt than that generally accej^ted : (3) 
The early use of the " cire perdu " process for castings ; 
and (4) the comparatively late use of cold working 
associated with annealing for the shaping of vessels, 



vi ^ PREFACE. 

The work of ancient people on the metals known to 
them h^is been always of great interest to metallurgists, 
and the details of Ancient Egyptian Metallurgy given 
in this book are commended with confidence to students, 
whilst archaeologists will find many enriching suggestions. 

C. 0. B. 


December, 1926. 




Sources of Metals to the Ancient Egyptians — (a) Outline of Egyptian 

History ; (6) Sources of Metals to the Ancient Egyptians, . . 1 

Bronze Industry of Ancient Egypt, ...... 34 

The Iron Age in Egypt, 85 

Ancient Egyptian Tools, . . . . . . . .113 

The Metallography of Antique Metals, 122 


Notes for Collectors of Antique Metal Objects — (1) Cleaning and Pre- 
servation ; (2) Repairing, . . . . . . .181 

Index 209 


Frontispiece— VoRT-RAiT of Major Gaeland, . to face Title-page 



1. Metal Statue of King Piupi I., with a smaller one of his Son 

Cairo Museum, vith Dynasty, .... 


2. Bronze Statuette of Rameses IV., ..... 


3. An Early Egyptian Metallurgist. Photograph from Cartonage, 


4. Lead Headdresses, ....... 


5. Bronze Foot, 


6. Section of Bronze Foot, 


7. Bronze Charm Box, 


8. Sun and Snake Emblem, 


9. Head of Statuette, 


10. Statuette of Goddess Isis, 


11. Body of Isis : Arm removed. 


12. Bronze Snake Crown, . 



13. Unfinished Casting, showing " Gates," .... 


14. Chisel Marks on Unfinished Casting, . . . . 


15. Bronze Door Fastening, ...... 


16. Statuette of Rameses IV. Back View, .... 


17. Statue of Horus, ........ 


18. Bronze Vase, 


19. Section of Bronze Vase, ...... 


20. Statuette of God Thoth, 


21. Section through Arm- joint, ...... 


22. Joint of Horus, . . 


23. Mould for Ornamental Head of Pedestal, 


24. Mould for Arrow Tips, 


25. Fittings on Statuette of Osiris, Front View, 


26. „ „ „ Back View, . 


27. Arrow Tip, 


28. Copper Nail, xvmth Dynasty, 


29. Copper Razor, ........ 


30. Egyptian Vessel (Roman or Byzantine), 


31. Roman Ladle, ......... 


32. Bronze Vase, xvmth Dynasty, 


33. Wooden Sarcophagus, . 





. 62. 

Bottom of Bronze Vase, 
Bronze Mirror, 
Collapsible Stand (Closed), 

Roman Pot, 
Repairs in Roman Pot, 
Statue in Diorite, ivth Dynasty 
Statue in Grey Granite, xviiith Dynasty, 
Pyramid Hieroglyphics in Black Granite, xiith Dynasty, 
Chisel Marks on Hard Stone Statue, 
Photomicrograph of Cube of Mild Steel 
Model of Carpenter's Shop, . 
Native using Modem Bow Drill, 
Native using Modem Adze, . 
Axe, ...... 

Socketted Axe Head, . 
Cutting-out Knife, 
Rivet Heads on Bronze Door Hinge, 
Microstructure of Cast Silver, 

„ of Silver-Copper Alloy, 

„ of Cast Brass, 

„ of Silver-Copper Alloy showing Eutectic. 

,, cf Modern Worked Brass, 

„ of Twisted Brass showing Slip-bands, 

Worked Brass annealed at 600° for half an hour, 
Microstructure of Annealed Brass after further Annealing 
for half an hour, 

,, of Copper Dagger showing Cores, 

Copper Dagger after Annealing, .... 

Microstructure of Copper Strip, xiith Dynasty, 
Copper Strip (Fig. 64) Annealed, x 90 diam., 
Microstructure of Copper Razor (Fig. 29), 

(Figs. 29 and 66), Aimealed, 
Copper Knife, ....... 

Microstructure of Copper Knife. X 75 diam.. 
Copper Knife (Fig. 69) after Annealing. X 75 diam., 
Microstructure of Axe-head (Fig. 48), 

,, ,, near Cutting Edge, 

Same as Fig. 72, after Annealing, .... 

X 90 

to 800 













Microstructure showing Cores and Lead Spots in Bronze Pot 

(Fig. 30), 

Microstructure of Gold Ring showing Core Structure, 

,, of Twisted Brass. X 90 diam., 

of Gilt Copper Strip, x 100 diam., 
Rivet showing Fine Crystals. X 90 diam., 
Microstructure of Silver Bead, x 90 diam., . 

„ of Silver-Copper Statuette, 

of Bronze Ladle (Fig. 31). X 100 diam 

,, of Ornamented Pot showing Flowlines, 

Roman Bronze Jar, ...... 

Microstructure of Repaired Portion of Roman Pot, 

„ of Joint in Repaired Pot, 

,, of Bronze showing Inclusions of Unfused Scrap 

View of Surface of Copper Dagger, 
Section showing Internal Selective Corrosion, . 
Microstructure of Copper Graver showing Corrosion, 

„ of Coptic Silver showing Corrosion, 

„ of Silver-rich Alloy, , . 

„ of Copper Nail showing Corrosion, 

„ of Axe Head showmg Corrosion, 

,, of Roman Bronze Jar, 

Egyptian Hinge (Bronze), . . 

Microstructure of Hinge showing Impurities and Corrosion 

,, of Bronze Arrow Tip, 

„ of Roman Pot (Bronze), . 

„ of Bronze Arrow Tip, 

Egyptian Graver, .... 

Microstructure of Graver, 
Fragment of Copper from Corrosion Product, 
Microstructure of Fragment of Copper, . 

„ of Bronze Arrow Tip, 

Uncleaned Statuette as found. 
Cleaned Statuette, 
Uncleaned Mummy Eye, 
Same as 107, after Cleanmg, 
Repaired Statuette of Isis, 

„ Casting, 
Broken Lion-Headed God, 
Prepared Foot and Pinned Joints, 
Repaired Lion-Headed God, . 





(a) Outline of Egyptian History. 

To the thoughtful person of the present day it must 
appear remarkable that man had inhabited the earth 
for hundreds of thousands of years before he began 
to use metals. j During that tremendous lapse of time 
he had emerged from a state of utter barbarism, and, if 
we are to believe some scientists, had developed from 
an animal propelling himself on four legs into a being 
of human form capable of making implements and weapons 
for industrial and warlike purposes. 

The primitive natives of Egypt, like those of other 
prehistoric lands, in their search for improvements 
upon the stone -throwing methods of hunting and warfare 
of their simian coinhabitants, quickly learnt to fashion 
very useful implements of flint, and before the beginning 
of the historic age, the workmanship of these reached a 




standard of excellence superior to that of any other 
ancient country. 

Egyptian history may be traced back some 5,000 years. 
Before that, we only know that man existed and that a 
certain stage of civilisation had been attained immediately 
prior to the invention of the art of writing, at which point 
all history begins. 

The first general application of metals in Egypt does 
not appear to have been very much anterior to the 
invention of writing. No doubt the cutting and engraving 
of stones upon which records and memoirs were to be 
made, called for tools of a material less friable than 
flint, with which it was only possible to make rough 
scratchings upon the surface, and the ancients were 
thus compelled to try other minerals that were lying 
in plenty around them, being thus led forward to the 
discovery of metals, which advanced the art of recording 
thoughts and deeds to an extent now difficult to 

It is, however, not improbable that metals had their 
first application in destructive implements. In spite 
of the excellence of design and workmanship that the 
manufacture of flint arrow tips, knives, and other small 
implements had reached, it is certain that the discovery 
of metals had a profound and beneficial influence upon 
the methods used in war and hunting, by rendering 
possible the production of much more serviceable weapons 
than those previously in use. 

Much discussion has taken place amongst archaeologists 
as to the actual country and time of the first use of 
copper aftdr- other metals, and it is a very fascinating 
subject. I There is, however, little doubt that if the 
Egyptians cannot be said to have been the first to apply 
copper to their needs, they were amongst the first, and 


they are equally as deserving of credit for it as the other 
ancient nations who may or may not have anticipated 
their discovery, because their application was independent 
and original. Further, it may be said that in their appli- 
cation of the then known metals, each in its most suitable 
direction, and in their skill in fashioning and working 
them, the Egyptians were second to no other people of 
jbheir time. 

It has been assumed by some experts that immediately 
prior to the ist Dynasty, Egypt was invaded by a foreign 
nation who brought into the countr}^ much refinement 
in art and statesmanship, as well as a knowledge of metals 
and other evidences of a matured civilisation. This 
would mean, however, that in some other ancient country 
there previously existed a race of people of superior 
culture, who must, therefore, have been the fathers of 
civilisation, but up to the present none of the lands of 
the old world has produced distinct indications that its 
state of progress was in advance of that of the Egyptians 
3,400 years before Christ. 

-^Previous to 1000 B.C., all the chief useful metals were 
being worked by the Egyptians, and the only ones that 
are now of extensive industrial importance, and were 
then unknown, are zinc, nickel, and aluminium. Of zinc 
and nickel, it may be said that, although they seem in- 
dispensable to us now, we could manage without them 
as did the ancient Egyptians, whilst aluminium is a 
metal of quite modern discovery, which has only become 
indispensable since aviation became a practical science. 
It is not unlikely that, had large deposits of zinc and 
nickel ores existed in the country, the Egyptian crafts- 
men would have discovered and used them. They 
certainly used all the metals that occurred in their own 
country in sufficient quantities to be of use, and readily 


took up the use of tin when it was introduced from other 
countries, there being no tin-bearing minerals in Egypt 

It is almost impossible to realise how much mankind 
in general owes to-day to the discovery of metals. It 
will only be necessary to place before the reader a picture 
of a world minus machinery, which besides owing its 
origin to the inventive genius of modern man, was 
primarily made possible by the discovery of the useful 
metals. Practically all modern improvements depend 
directly or indirectly upon metals, and our present state 
of progress would have been impossible without them. 

Archaeologists divide the earliest history and pre- 
history of a country into periods represented by the 
different and progressive stages of culture that existed, 
and to these the terms — Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages 
are applied. Each of these stages is further divided into 
early, middle, and late periods, to which suitable names 
are given. No precise dates can be assigned to the 
different periods in any country, because they are merely 
stages which gradually shade off into one another, as, for 
instance, in the case of the Bronze Age, because stone 
implements continued to be made for centuries after the 
first use of copper or bronze. 

It is usually considered with regard to Egypt that 
the Stone Age terminated about 4000 B.C., but there 
is really no hope of our ever being able to fix a date^ 
even roughly, for the earliest metal objects, because they 
are prehistoric. 

The Stone Age was followed by a period during which 
copper was used. Afterwards, on the introduction of 
tin, the Bronze Age proper began. These classical stages 
of civilisation will be referred to later, as also will the 
highly contentious subject of the commencement of the 


Iron Age in Egypt, a stage of culture which may yet be 
proved, to have even preceded the Bronze Age in this 
country of paradoxes. 

Attempts are sometimes made to trace a definite Hne 
of demarcation between these various periods, but surely 
it is a mistake to expect that an age of, say, bronze would, 
under any circumstances, suddenly, or even in a century 
or two, change to one of iron simply because of the 
introduction of the latter. For instance, in our own time, 
the invention of electric light did not at once seal the 
fate of gas illumination, but the two illuminants were 
afterwards employed side by side, as no doubt they will 
continue to be for generations. And further, may it not 
be said that even to-day we are almost as much in an 
" aluminium " age as a steel one, which latter term is 
sometimes used in connection with the present era. 

It is, therefore, not remarkable that the dates of the 
commencements and endings of the stages of culture in 
prehistoric and early historic times cannot be fixed 
definitely. After the Bronze Age. began, flint would be 
(indeed it is known that it was) used for generations, and 
similarly, after the introduction of iron, bronze continued 
to be used. Even after flint disappeared from general 
industrial use, it continued for ages to be employed for 
fire-raising purposes, and bronze has never wholly gone 
into disuetude, even temporarily ; in fact, it has remained 
in use, as we shall discuss later, made up of very similar 
proportions of the constituent metals as when first intro- 
duced thousands of years ago. 

It is proposed to give here only a very rough outline 
of early Egyptian history, in order that the reader may 
be in a position to follow more readily the allusions to 
periods and dynasties that follow in subsequent chapters, 
and for fuller details the authentic works of Professor 


Flinders Petrie, Sir Gaston Maspero, and others should 
be consulted. 

The history of ancient Egypt is divided into periods or 
epochs, which are further subdivided into dynasties in 
a somewhat arbitrary manner following a system first 
adopted some 2,300 years ago by an Egyptain historian 
named Manetho, and which has been accepted by arch- 
aeologists with varying amounts of credence. There is 
also a predynastic period, during which the separate 
states formed by the original incursionists into the Nile 
Valley were gradually amalgamated into one nation 
under one Pharaoh. In this remote period small articles 
of copper, such as pins, and thin articles from hammered 
gold were made, having been probably hammered from 
native metal, whilst jars and bowls of exquisite symmetry 
were produced from the hardest stones by processes of 
simple grinding alone. 

The 1st Dynasty dated from about B.C. 3500, and, as 
the art of writing was at that time well advanced, we 
know from records which have been preserved that even 
the Egyptians then obtained supplies of turquoise from 
the peninsula of Sinai. 

It also seems perfectly clear that in the remote days 
of the 1st Dynasty the Egyptians had an intimate know- 
ledge of copper ores, and of the processes for extracting 
the metal, which supports the view that the first use of 
copper in this part of the world must have preceded the 
1st Dynasty by centuries. 

As has been mentioned already, in the prehistoric 
period, gold had been worked, and by the time of the 
1st Dynasty the goldsmith's art had reached a high 
state of perfection, though present-day members of the 
craft will probably not wholly agree with those archaeolo- 
gists who unfavourably compare modern goldsmiths' 


work with the old Egyptian chefs cVceuvres. Before 
the close of this dynasty moulding was known and gold 
and copper casting were in use. 

The iiird Dynasty terminated what is sometimes 
called the archaic period. 

During the ivth and subsequent Dynasties mining 
operations for turquoise were vigorously carried on in 
Sinai. Gold was obtained from the hills along the Red 
Sea and a few other places in Egypt. Stone was quarried 
all over the country to produce the pyramids, statues, 
and tombs. Huge blocks of granite, 50 to 60 tons in 
weight, were brought down the river from the district 
of the first Cataract. It was a period when art and in- 
dustry flourished as they had never previously flourished 
anywhere in the world. Gold and copper were used : 
silver was known, but was rare, and, therefore, much 
more valuable than gold. 

In those early days, metals must have been entirely 
monopolies of the Court. The expeditions to the mines 
and quarries were sent in charge of the highest officials, 
sometimes even the King's sons, and so, no doubt, the 
first metallurgists in the world were either of royal blood 
or occupied posts of great importance under the crown. 

During the Memphite period, tin was possibly first 
introduced from abroad. With the exception of a small 
pin of bronze stated to date back to the iiird Dynasty, 
and which is usually regarded as an accidental production 
of copper-tin alloy, the earliest article supposed to be 
of bronze that has been found, is a life-size statue (Fig. 1) 
of a King named Piupi I., of the vith Dynasty (see also 
Chap. II., p. 36. It is now in the Cairo Museum, and, 
although the Museum catalogue asserts that this statue 
is of bronze and gives an analysis, doubt exists in some 
quarters as to whether it is really of that alloy, and a 


Fig. 1.— Metal Statue of Tving Piupi I., with a smaller one of his son, 
Cairo Museum, vith Djmasty, 


future analysis may show that it is only copper, in which 
case the introduction of tin into Egypt will stand in 
need of being dated forward some centuries, because 
there is no other authentic bronze specimen in existence 
of a period anterior to the xviiith Dynasty. 

At the same time, it should be pointed out that the 
statue, having been either partly, or, as the author 
believes, wholly produced by casting, the metal may 
quite probably be of bronze, as some difficulty would 
have been experienced in casting an object of this nature 
in even only comparatively pure copper. 

Existing specimens make it fairly certain that during 
the ivth Dynasty, or even before, iron was employed in 
Egypt for industrial purposes, but a discussion of this 
fascinating subject is reserved for a subsequent chapter. 

The Memphic Period was followed by the first Theban 
(from Thebes, the new capital) Period or Empire, which 
included the xith to the xviith Dynasties, and termi- 
nated about B.C. 1600. 

The xiith Dynasty stands out as a very prosperous 
one, and during its course the Egyptians made an in- 
vasion of Syria, another wealthy land of old times, which 
was subsequently to become an important source of 
metals of all kinds to the victorious Egyptians. 

From the ancient records we learn that in the xiith 
Dynasty the mines in Sinai were administered in a 
methodical manner. Each mine was placed under a 
foreman and a regular output of ore expected from it. 
Values were at this time reckoned in terms of weight 
in copper, and again the archaeologists tell us that the 
jewellery of the period comprised regal ornaments, the 
workmanship of which has not been surpassed by later- 
day goldsmiths. 

In the British Museum is a memorial tablet or stela 


of a mining inspector of the xiith Dynasty. On it he 
states that he worked the mining districts and made 
the chiefs wash out the gold. 

The XV. and xvith Dynasties were foreign ones, the 
Egyptians' first experience of ahen rule. The invaders 
came from Asia, and are known by the name of Hyksos. 
They only ruled for about a century, but during that 
time became thoroughly Egyptianised, assumed Pharaonic 
titles, and appropriated the statues of kings who had 
reigned before them. Their rule had little effect on the 
art of the period, and none on the Egyptian industries 
and crafts ; in fact, in all likelihood, they were ruling 
a people far in advance of themselves in these matters. 

The first Theban period ended in great confusion with 
the xviith Dynasty. The Egyptians overpowered their 
rulers, chased them out of the country, and an Egyptian 
Pharaoh was once again set upon the throne. 

The xviiith Dynasty ushered in a new epoch, the second 
Theban, or, as it is sometimes called, the Empire Period : 
a period of majesty and might for the country, during 
which Asia was subdued, and Nubia, the country of 
gold, was forced to pay an annual tribute of from 600 to 
800 pounds weight of the precious metal from the mines 
there, which afterwards became a continual source of 
income to the Egyptians. 

That the mines and quarries were kept in the hands 
of the reigning monarch is shown by the Pharaohs' great 
interest in their development. Ahmose 1st, the first 
king of the xviiith Dynasty, made visits of inspection 
to them. This dynasty witnessed the rise of a great 
queen, named Hatsheput, who reigned as co-regent with 
King Thutmose Illrd. This royal lady is noteworthy 
because she erected two immense obelisks at Karnak, 
each weighing over 350 tons, and overlaid with gold. 


The appearance of the untarnishable covering of these 
monuments, shinmg in the splendour of the Egyptian 
sun, must have been entrancing, and the value pro- 

Thutmose Ilird was an able administrator, an empire 
builder, and a military strategist of no mean order. 
He increased the treasury of the kingdom by immense 
quantities of gold and silver, which he captured in Syria, 
and we read in the ancient records that during his reign 
a weighing of about four tons of gold took place. He 
occupied his spare time in designing vessels needed for 
the temple. His son, Amenhotep Ilnd succeeded him, 
and ably administered the Empire, increasing enormously 
the wealth of the treasury by his conquests. After one 
of his expeditions he brought back three-quarters of 
a ton of gold and about 45 tons of copper. During this 
reign there was considerable intercourse with the eastern 
Mediterranean countries, and Egyptian influences worked 
upon the art of other nations. Silver became more 
plentiful than hitherto, and cheaper than gold. 

Another Pharaoh, Amenhotep III., maintained the 
empire for nearly 40 years, but after that the xviiith 
Dynasty drew to its close in disorder and religious revolu- 
tion : the Syrian dependency was lost, and priestcraft 
assumed a controlling influence in the government. 

The xixth Dynasty, B.C. 1350 to B.C. 1205, includes 
the first two kings known by the name of Rameses, a 
name which is now renowned almost all over the civilised 
world. It is the conceit and purloining proclivities of 
the second Rameses, however, that have brought the 
name into such prominence. His conceit took the form 
of erecting collossal statues of himself all over the country, 
whilst his piracy, in adopting numerous statues of his 
kingly predecessors, erasing their inscriptions and 


substituting his own name and achievements. In spite of 
these weaknesses, he was a mighty builder, and, as an 
instance of this, one of his statues may be quoted, which 
is made of a single block of stone weighing about a 
thousand tons. The student will find it interesting to 
picture the ancient Egyptian workmen preparing the 
stone, moving the statue, and erecting it, without the 
use of machinery of any kind, and, according to archaeolo- 
gists, without any other small tools than those of copper 
and bronze. 

Amongst the other achievements of Rameses II., it 
may be mentioned that he had 51 daughters and about 
twice that number of sons. His mummy is in the Cairo 
Museum, and visitors may gaze upon the face of the 
old king much the same as it must have been as he lay 
upon his death bier, thousands of years ago. 

Unfortunately, the successors of Rameses II. of the 
same name, who formed the xxth Dynasty, were not so 
enterprising, and little is known about them, except 
that under their rule the Empire fell away and the power 
of the Pharaohs became thoroughly subordinate to that 
of the priests. A photograph, taken from a beautifully 
executed bronze statuette of Rameses IV., will be found 
in Fig. 2. 

The later Rameses, in their desire only for ease and 
luxury, allowed the priesthood to became powerful and 
wealthy, and so the following dynasty, the xxist, was 
one of priests, known as the Priests of Amon, who suc- 
ceeded in getting the whole of Egypt under their control 
for a time. Towards the end of the dynasty, however, 
the country split up into two kingdoms, the priests 
maintaining authority in Upper Egypt, whilst descend- 
ants of the direct royal line rose up in the Delta, and 
set up a king of their own at Tanis. 



From this unsettled period we have rehcs of interest 
to the metallurgist. It is not surprising to find that 
the priests, who seemed to believe that temporal as well 
as spiritual rule could be worked from one department, 
did not shrink from commercial undertakings. The 


-Bron7e Statuette of Rameses TV 

control of all the metal was placed in the hands of high 
officials of the priestly house, and thus w^e find that one, 
who was the chief of the metallurgists, also bore the 
grandiose title of " Superior of the Secrets."' A picture 



of this interesting person is given in Fig. 3. It is a photo- 
graph of the cartonage placed over the mummy, and is 
supposed to be a hfe-Hke representation of the deceased. 
Metallurgists visiting the museum at Cairo may thus 

Fig. 3. — An Early Egyptian Metallurgist. Photograph irom Cartonage. 

look upon the features of one of the earliest of their 
predecessors in the science, and will no doubt wonder 
whether the expert was really as youthful as he is repre- 


It is owing to the liberal policy of the Egyptian Anti- 
quities Department in allowing photographs to be freely 
taken in the Museum, that it is possible to include this 
and other interesting reproductions of antiques kept 

After Egypt had been more or less divided for about 
a century and a half, a Lybian succeeded in obtaining 
the throne, and in bringing the whole of the country 
under one crown, but the high priests of Anion still 
maintained their power in certain localities. 

During their domination, the Lybians became Egypt- 
ianised, as the other alien rulers did before them. How- 
ever, they were overthrown in turn by Nubian invaders, 
who founded the xxvth Dynasty (b.c. 712 to B.C. 663). 
Like their predecessors, the Nubians, or Ethiopians, 
had no arts or industries, and, therefore, did not in- 
fluence the crafts of the Egyptians, at least not bene- 

At the end of the xxvth Dynasty the Egyptians had 
experience of alien rule from another source, though for 
a comparatively short time. The Assyrians, who in 
former years had been subjects of the Egyptian Empire, 
invaded the country, drove out the Nubians, and took 
the kingship into their own hands. 

The leading historians do not state that the Syrians 
brought in any improvements upon the metal and 
kindred industries, and indeed their domination seems 
to have been of a purely destructive nature, although 
it was such a short one. They are said, however, to have 
left behind a set of iron tools, comprising chisels, saws, 
rasps, etc., of Syrian manufacture, which are still in 

The dynasty that followed, the xxvith, extending 
from B.C. 663 to B.C. 525, forms a bright break in an 


otherwise gloomy period of ancient Egyptian history. 
With the aid of Greek mercenaries, the natives were 
once again able to overpower their foreign rulers and 
set a Pharaoh of their own upon the throne. This 
period of restoration, known from the name of the 
capital, Sais, as the Saitic Period, is probably the most 
interesting and important from a purely metallurgical 
point of view, because it is the only epoch that yields 
any considerable quantities of metal objects of Egyptian, 
as well as Greek work and style. Probably 90 per cent, 
of metal antiquities recovered from excavations belong 
to this period. In it a great revival of art and learning 
took place, and Greek influence upon the arts and crafts 
began to be felt. At least one city of Greeks was founded 
in Egypt during this dynasty. 

But Egypt was far too valuable a land to be un- 
attracted by the heads of rival states, and the Persians, 
after their victorious march across Asia, entered the 
country and subdued it, afterwards ruling it with some 
severity for about 110 years, forming the xxviith Dynasty, 
which lasted from B.C. 525 to B.C. 408. 

The Persians were themselves skilled in metal working, 
and had an art distinctively their own. A few specimens 
of their bronze work have been found in Egypt from time 
to time, but, of course, there is nothing to indicate 
whether these were made in the country by Persian 
workmen or were merely introduced in their manu- 
factured form. 

A system of coinage was initiated in Egypt by the 
Persians, and in other ways they assisted the prosperity 
of the country, but the Egyptians, ever ungrateful, 
threw off the Persian yoke and the Kings of the xxviiith, 
xxixth, and xxxth Dynasties were natives who held their 
authority by the help of Greek mercenaries. After some 


years, however, the Persians reconquered the country, 
but only for a short time, and they were finally over- 
thrown about B.C. 332 by Macedonian invaders, who 
were assisted by the Egyptians themselves. 

The history of the ancient Egyptians really terminates 
at this point, because, after the Macedonian conquest, 
they were never again free, but so many metal anti- 
quities have been found belonging to -the Ptolemaic 
and Roman Periods which followed, that some note 
should be made in a book of this nature of the influence 
on the metal-working craft of these changes of domina- 

At the death of the Macedonian ruler, Alexander, 
in B.C. 305, the Ptolemaic period began, and during its 
course Egypt became the .richest country in the world. 
Though their rulers were Greeks, the Egyptians were 
permitted to retain their own nationality, language, and 
religion. Like previous invaders of the country, the 
Ptolemies became Egyptianised to a great extent, and 
adopted the habits of former Pharaohs. 

It is to the benefactions of one of the Ptolomies to 
the temples of Egypt, that we owe the Rosetta Stone, 
which has proved to be the key of ancient Egyptian 
hieroglyphic writing, because it was inscribed in three 
styles of writing, including hieroglyphic and Greek. 

No outline of this dynasty would be complete without 
mention of that remarkable woman. Queen Cleopatra, 
who was the last of the Ptolomies, and whose character 
stands embossed in history as a fascinating and powerful 

The metal antiquities of the Ptolomaic Period, though 
numerous, are not as plentiful as those of the Saitic 
Period which preceded it. Although the Egyptians had 
long been expert in metal working, it is not unlikely 


that they learnt several new processes from the Greeks, 
such as the raismg of vessels of intricate shape from 
discs of silver, copper, and gold, which became easy to 
them as soon as they had learnt to apply systematic 

On the death of Cleopatra, in B.C. 30, Egypt became 
a Roman province, and it is from that date that foreign 
influences began to affect Egyptian arts, crafts, and 
customs in such a pronounced manner that the latter 
were speedily extinguished, although many of the 
Roman Emperors could not withstand the fascinations 
of the Egyptian ritual, for we find that even they adopted 
the Pharaonic titles and customs, and caused much re- 
building and repairing to be done to the national temples. 

By the time of the Roman Conquest, Egyptian civil- 
isation had once more fallen from its greatness, and 
consequently the mechanical genius of the Romans 
found a ready field for its application. 

The Graeco-Roman Period possesses added interest 
for the metallurgist, because of the general use of a 
coinage, and, therefore, furnishes plenty of metal speci- 
mens in bronze, silver, gold, and even lead, for the 
purposes of scientific investigation. The Romans had 
a mint at Alexandria. 

The first use of zinc as an intentional addition to copper 
dates from Roman times. 

During the Roman occupation, the Greek language 
entirely supplanted Egyptian for official purposes. 
Christianity was introduced, and, in spite of the perse- 
cution of certain of the Roman governors, seems to have 
flourished as it has never since flourished in Egypt. 

The Christians or Copts, as they are still called, broke 
away from the traditions and conventions of pagan 
art. As a result of the vigorous persecutions to which 


they were subjected by some of the Romans and by all 
the Arab rulers subsequently, and of their relegation 
to seclusion in isolated districts and settlements, it is 
not surprising that, although their forms of architecture, 
design, and decoration were not without beauty and 
distinction, following as they did the Byzantine styles, 
their craftsmanship in stone, wood, and in metal w^as, 
on the whole, of an inferior order. 

The tenets of their faith may have precluded the 
employment of skilled pagan artisans in the embellish- 
ment of their religious establishments, but it seems more 
probable that the sculptors, the artists, the metal w^orkers, 
and other pagan craftsmen were prevented by their own 
aversion to the new religion, from executing commissions 
for its followers, because the Copts had no objections 
to incorporating in their monasteries the hieroglyph- 
covered stones of former Egyptian temples, or to adopting 
the foundations of the latter for their own edifices. 

The specimens of Coptic metal work that are left to 
us are generally of poor workmanship, and are not 

Outside the monasteries and settlements, Grseco- 
Roman art supplanted that of the Egyptians. The 
public buildings and monuments were characterised 
by beauty of design and finish, but private property 
appears to have been made much more economically. 
Much of the metal-work of Graeco-Roman types found 
in Egypt was very probably fashioned abroad, although 
it must be said that few of the articles will bear com- 
parison with those of the same style found in Europe. 
The many little bronze figures of the Egyptian gods, 
which the Greeks conveniently recognised as their own 
divinities, were no doubt made locally. 

In the year a.d. 640, the Romans were turned out of 



Egypt by the Arab hordes, who conquered the country 
and made it a province of their Empire, which it remained 
until 1517, a period of 877 years. This book is not con- 
cerned with early Arab metal work, but it may be stated 
that specimens of it are not as numerous as might have 
been expected. The Arab Museum at Cairo, although 
it contains some ver}^ interesting relics in brass and 
silver, possesses only a meagre collection, which is sur- 
prising, seeing that it deals with a comparatively recent 
historical period. The older mosques of Egypt, however, 
contain isolated relics of merit. 

There are two features of ancient Egyptian history 
that stand out prominently. The first is the number 
of changes of capital that took place. From the beginning 
of the historic period, down to B.C. 332, when the country 
came under Macedonian rule, no less than nine cities 
had occupied the position of metropolis, and some of 
them more than once. The second feature is the per- 
sistence of native art, industries, and religion. Not one 
of the foreign invasions until that of the Greeks, which 
was really not an invasion, can be traced to have had 
any serious or lasting influence upon the art of the 
country, but instead we find, as we have observed pre- 
viously, that, owing, no doubt, to the advanced civilisa- 
tion of the Egyptians, the foreign rulers became Egypt- 
ianised and adopted the manners and customs of their 
new subjects. Even the advanced but clumsy art of the 
Assyrians, with whom the Egyptians had the closest 
relations for centuries, as subjects and masters, and also 
as traders, did not have any permanent effect upon 
Egyptian style, or upon the processes of industry. On 
the other hand, Egyptian influences considerably affected 
the civilisations of the different foreign states that came 
into contact with them. It is certain that the Egyptians 


had nothing to learn from any of their neighbours in 
the manipulation and use of metals, right up to the Graeco- 
Roman period, and that, in spite of constant intercourse 
with Crete, Syria, and other metal-producing countries, 
Egypt developed its bronze industry, and its gold, silver, 
and other ornamental work, on quite independent lines. 

The preceding outline of Egyptian history is neces- 
sarily a very brief one. The reader will have observed 
that it covers a period of some five thousand years, 
but he should take note that early Egyptian chronology 
is by no means a settled matter. Archaeology is a science 
based almost wholly upon inferences and indications. 
There is very little documentary or direct evidence of 
any kind concerning some periods of considerable extent, 
whilst in many cases the doubtful testimony of classic 
literature has to be accepted as the only source of in- 

In fixing dates for the earliest events, there are several 
systems of chronology in use, each of which receives its 
measure of support from Egyptologists equally eminent. 
There are, however, disparities of thousands of years 
between the dates assigned by them to the commence- 
ment of the dynastic period, and we can only expect 
very rough approximations in the dating of matters 
and events so indefinite. For instance, we may compare 
the system supported by the late Sir Gaston Maspero 
and others, which places the ist Dynasty at about B.C. 
5000, with that advocated by D. Breasted in his incom- 
parable History of Ancient Egypt, a work which, either 
in its extended or abridged form, the student would do 
well to consult. In it he used what is termed the short 
system, which places the ist Dynasty about B.C. 3400. 

Just as there are different systems of dating, so are 
there various systems of spelling and writing the names 


of Kings, and the casual reader will probably find a 
little difficulty in tracing the same persons and places 
in the histories and account of different modern writers. 
Some archaeologists show an unfortunate taste for a 
method of writing the name, which appears to the 
layman to render them cumbrous and unpronounceable. 

The science of archaeology is a very comprehensive 
one : indeed it may almost be said to embrace all the 
other sciences as well as the arts. And this is probably 
why we occasionally find in works on the subject, that 
we are asked by writers in their enthusiasm and admira- 
tion for the prowess of the ancient Egyptian artificers, to 
believe that they achieved the impossible. 

This tendency to over-rate and flatter has been ex- 
tended to metallurgical matters. It fostered the idea 
that the ancient Egyptians possessed secret hardening 
processes for copper and bronze, and it has considerably 
hindered the acceptance of any theories as to the know- 
ledge and use of iron by the early dynastic Egyptians. 

With regard to dating, a word of explanation is neces- 
sary. The reader who finds two different authorities 
assigning one and the same event to dates 1,500 years 
or more apart is apt to become completely sceptical 
in the matter. Yet the explanation is a simple one. 
Some years ago an ingenious method of fixing the date 
of certain events in ancient Egypt was discovered, based 
on the facts that the Egyptian civil calendar contained 
only 365 days instead of approximately 365J, and that 
in consequence the seasons were always becoming gradu- 
ally displaced by J day each year, or one day in :^ur 
years, and so coming round to their correct positions 
in the calendar every 1460 years (365 x 4). If in a given 
year of a given king we are told that a certain date of 
the civil year corresponded with a certain date of the 


true or solar year, we can by a simple piece of arithmetic 
fix that year to its position in a " Sothic Cycle " of 
1,460 years, but we can never be sure, from mathe- 
matical considerations alone, which Sothic Cycle, for 
such cycles began in 4241 B.C., 2781 B.C., and 1321 B.C. 
With regard to the xviiith Egyptian Dynasty, from 
which we have three of these so-called " Sothic Datings," 
there is complete agreement between Egyptologists that 
it is to the last of these cycles that the events must be 
assigned, and working on this basis we get for the beginning 
of that dynasty the date of 1580 B.C. With respect to 
the xiith Dynasty the position is slightly different. 
Here we have one Sothic Dating, which would place the 
beginning of the dynasty in 2000 B.C. or 3460 B.C. (1,460 
years earlier), according as we place it in the second or 
first of the cycles enumerated above. It may be said 
at once that the large majority of Egyptologists agree 
in accepting the lower date, 2000 B.C. The higher date, 
3460 B.C., has now only one advocate of any distinction, 
though a few scholars are inclined to deny the validity 
of the Sothic method of dating, and to adopt arbitrary 
dates in between the higher and the lower. Before the 
xiith Dynasty all is guesswork, but here again there is 
a fairly general agreement that the ist Dynasty should 
be dated very roughly about 3400 B.C. Certain Egypt- 
ologists would place the date much further back than 
this, but there are no advocates for a much lower 

The dates from the xviiith Dynasty to the xxxth 
may be regarded as approximately certain, being based 
on the known lengths of the kings' reigns and checked, 
in the later period, by external parallels. 

The following table gives a survey of the chronology 
adopted by the advocates of the Lower Dating : — 


Archaic Period, ist to iiird Dynasty, 
Old Kingdom, ivth to vith Dynasty, 
First Intermediate Period, viith to xith 
Dynasty, . 

Middle Kingdom, x: 
Later Intermediate 

Dynasty, . 
xviiith Dj^nasty, 
xixth Dynasty, 
xxth Dynasty, 
xxist Dynasty, 
xxiind Dynasty, 
xxiiird Dynasty, 
xxivth Dynasty, 
xxvth Dynasty, 
xxvith Dynasty, 
xxviith Dynasty, 
xxviiith Dynasty, 
xxixth Dynasty, 
xxxth Dynasty, 

ith Dynasty, 
Period, xiiith to 


3400 to 2900 B.C. 
2900 to 2475 B.C. 

2475 to 2000 b.c. 
2000 to 1788 B.C. 

1788 to 1580 B.C. 
1580 to 1350 B.C. 
1350 to 1205 B.C. 
1205 to 1090 B.C. 
1090 to 945 B.C. 

945 to 745 B.C. 

745 to 718 B.C. 

718 to 712 B.C. 

712 to 663 B.C. 

663 to 525 B.C. 

525 to 408 B.C. 

408 to 399 B.C. 

399 to 378 B.C. 

378 to 340 B.C. 

332 to 30 B.C. 
30 B.C. to A.D. 640 
A.D. 640 to 1517 

(6) Sources of Metals to the Ancient Egyptians, 

The mines from wliich the ancient Egyptians obtained 
supphes of the different metals they used, with the 
exception of silver and tin, were situated chiefly in 
parts of Egypt between the Nile and the Red Sea. In 
these areas were found gold, copper, lead, and iron, as 
well as various precious stones, for which extensive 
mining operations were also carried on. 

Over 100 ancient gold workings have been traced in 
Egypt and the Sudan — but none in Sinai. It is not im- 
possible that supplies were obtained at times from the 
land of Midian, on the eastern shore of the Red Sea, 


where old workings are known to exist, but these have 
not yet been properly examined. 

There is in existence a plan of a gold mine dating 
from the xixth Dynasty, and this ancient and 
valuable document, being the earliest map of any kind 
that we possess, shows, in a somewhat sketchy manner, 
the mountains from which the gold was obtained, the 
site where the washing was done, and the store house, 
together with the roads connecting these places, but 
the actual position of the mine has not been determined, 
as the data given on the map are insufficient. 

From other contemporary records, it has been found 
that the metallic gold was obtained by crushing the 
quartz, grinding and washing on inclined planes, much 
in the same way as vanning is done to-day. The grains 
of gold were afterwards melted and run into ingots. 
The gold contained a fair proportion of silver, as such 
native gold usually does, but it is improbable that the 
earliest Egyptian metallurgists knew this, or, if they 
did, that they were aware of any processes for separating 
it, in fact analyses made by Berthelot show that the 
gold from early mummies and other antiquities contains 
about 13 per cent, silver. 

It is likely that some of the first gold articles were 
made by simply hammering native nuggets, or by 
welding several nuggets together, but this must have been 
confined to small articles. 

The large quantities of gold objects brought back by 
the Egyptians after raids and conquests in Asia and 
elsewhere must also not be forgotten when considering 
their sources of supply. These spoils of war appear to 
have been received in various forms, such as ingots, rings, 
sheets, and even finished vessels of different types, the 
latter being probably afterwards melted up for other uses. 


With regard to the sources of silver, we have not so 
much evidence. It is well known that in the earliest 
periods, silver was much more valuable than gold, and 
that electrum, an alloy of gold and silver of indefinite 
proportions, was always much prized throughout the 
days of antiquity. Silver must, therefore, have been at 
first a rare metal. The late Professor Gowland con- 
sidered that the first silver in Egypt was obtained by 
refining the gold from Nubia, but there is no record as 
to the period in which the Egyptians first learnt to purify 
their gold, or to separate the silver, though it is fairly 
certain that later in history they did separate it as chloride 
by the action of common salt. 

It seems more probable that silver was first obtained 
from Syria, than that it was separated from impure gold, 
as the latter would imply that the presence of the silver 
in the gold was known at the time, and that the Egyptian 
metal workers were possessed of some chemical know- 
ledge, of which there is no evidence. Their medical 
prescriptions show a lamentable state of ignorance in 
this direction. 

Before rejecting the above theory on the score that 
silver was not even in use in Syria at the earliest period 
to which silver objects found in Egypt have been attri- 
buted, the systems of chronology of these two parts 
of the ancient world must be thoroughly verified and 

With respect to copper, we are on surer ground, for 
there are still in existence traces of old workings, such as 
heaps of slag, broken crucibles, besides definite written 
accounts of the mines and their organisation. With 
some breaks during revolutionary periods, when any 
metal required by the authorities would probably be 
taken from the statues and other works of their pre- 


decessors, the mines were worked during the whole 
dynastic period. 

The cupriferous ores of Egypt were of a readily reduc- 
ible nature, being, so far as we can tell to-day, chiefly 
blue and green carbonates and silicate, whilst ferru- 
ginous and siliceous sands for use as fluxes during the 
smelting of the ores were abundant. 

As in the case of gold and silver, spoils of war and 
tribute from different parts of the empire, were responsible 
for imports of large quantities of copper. Considerable 
amounts were also, no doubt, received in the ordinary 
course of trade with neighbouring people, such as the 
Phoenicians, at least from the time of the vith Dynasty. 

It is generally agreed amongst experts that the first 
production of metallic copper, wherever it took place in 
the ancient world, was an accidental one, and that it 
occurred round the camp fires where pieces of ore were 
used as stones to enclose the fire, and were thus reduced 
by the fuel and the heat. The first knowledge of other 
metals may also have been brought about similarly. 
The lump of metal produced fortuitously in this way 
would quickly attract attention by its properties of 
toughness, malleability, and lustre. Iron, copper, tin, 
lead, and silver might have been produced in this 
manner, but after the first discovery, which appears to 
have been that of copper, other surface minerals must 
almost certainly have been methodically experimented 

Copper and gold were the first metals to be used in 
Egypt as in most other ancient countries, but they were 
obtained by two different methods, so that the discovery 
of one could hardly have led directly to that of the other, 
and seeing that at least with respect to Egypt, native 
gold is far more likely to have existed in the form of 


nuggets of useful size, thus needing no smelting for small 
articles, the employment of gold no doubt preceded that 
of copper, although copper pins are claimed to have been 
found in graves of earlier prehistoric dates than specimens 
of gold. 

There is no doubt that in those early times, surface 
ores of different metals were plentiful, although to-day 
Egypt cannot be regarded as a country rich in minerals. 
Its gold deposits are almost exhausted, which is not 
surprising, seeing that they have been worked for about 
6,000 years. Sinai Peninsula remains the only district 
likely to prove wealthy in minerals : there are consider- 
able deposits of manganese, copper, and iron ores, besides 
precious stones, such as turquoise, and probably only 
railway facilities are needed to make them worth the 

The next important metal to consider is tin. The 
source of this metal to the Egyptians is still wrapt in 
obscurity, and much has been written by archaeologists 
and others on this subject. It is certain that it was 
imported either in the form of ore or metal, and the various 
places that have been suggested are Central Europe, 
Persia, Spain, Britain, Cyprus, and even China. No 
useful purpose would be served by recapitulating or 
comparatively discussing these suggestions here, but the 
reader may take his choice and rest content that it is 
just as likely to be correct as any of the others. 

The probable date of the first use of tin for making 
bronze is another interesting and much discussed question. 
As we have mentioned previously, one or two articles of 
bronze have been discovered belonging to very early 
dates, such as, for instance, a small rod assigned to the 
iiird Dynasty, but these were either accidental pro- 
ductions, or are perhaps intrusive and belong to later 


periods than the accompanying objects with which they 
were found. At the same time, it is not wise to regard 
the absence of specimens of any specific class of article 
during any period of antiquity as conclusive evidence 
of its non-production by the people of the period in 

Mention has been made of the metal statue (Fig. 1, 
p. 8) of the vith Dynasty King, Piupi 1st, and if this is 
really made of bronze, it is unlikely to have been an 
accidental production of that alloy, on account of its 
size, and, therefore, the first use of tin may date back 
before that period. On the other hand, it is not until 
the xviiith Dynasty that undoubted bronze objects have 
been found in sufficient quantities to really justify an 
assertion that tin was in common use as an addition to 

A finger ring of tin, attributed to the xviiith Dynasty, 
is described by Professor Flinders Petrie. It is unique, 
and, in spite of its extended life -time, the metal still 
possesses its " cry." 

Nothing is recorded to indicate whether its hardening 
properties, or the colour modifications it introduced, 
influenced the first use of tin with copper. It should not 
be overlooked, however, that no doubt the first con- 
signments of tin received in the country were sporadic, 
and consequently the metal would for some time be 
procurable only in certain localities or establishments. 
The ancient Egyptians obtained remarkable results in 
all kinds of stone working long before they received 

The late Professor Gowland went to considerable 
trouble to show that the first use of bronze in antiquity 
was probably not an intentional alloying of the two 
metals, but rather a simultaneous reduction of the two 


ores, and he has proved his contention that a sound 
alloy can be made in this manner. With respect to Egypt, 
however, it is hardly necessary to prove this, as we know 
that the copper ore from Sinai was reduced on the spot 
and brought to Egypt as metal, and that metallic copper 
was received in tons from other sources. 

Antique articles of lead discovered in Egypt are very 
few, but even prehistoric specimens have been found. 
The metal appears to have been fairly common in the 
xviiith Dynasty, and it was used occasionally for casting 
figures of the gods. There is a record that in the xviiith 
Dynasty Cyprus paid tribute in copper and lead, whilst 
bronze weights were brought up to the standard with 
lead fillings about that period. 

In Saitic times lead appears as an intentional con- 
stituent of bronze used for statuettes and similar articles 
of a purely non-useful nature. The ancient Egyptians 
appear to have realised that an addition of this metal 
made the alloy more fusible and more fluid, thus ensuring 
much sounder castings, especially in pieces of a thin 
nature. They must also have found that engraving and 
tooling of all kinds on the leady alloy was much simplified. 
Whether lead was put in for these reasons, or for economy 
or fraud, at least up to the Roman times, it is impossible 
to say, because it is not known whether it was a cheaper 
metal than copper or tin : it must, however, have been 
comparatively scarce. 

Fig. 4 shows some of the best examples of early Egyptian 
lead work in existence. The photograph illustrates 
examples of removable head decorations of various 
kinds, made for placing on statuettes at will, and date 
from Ptolemaic times. Some parts of these head decora- 
tions were cast direct to the finished form, whilst other 
parts were beaten to shape. As the photograph had to 



be taken of the glass case complete, in which they are 
kept at the Cairo Museum, the illustration is somewhat 
marred by 'reflections and shadows. 

Lead coffins also were used in the times of the Ptole- 

maic s. 

Fjo;. 4. — Lead Headdresses. 

The sources of lead were probably mainly local. There 
is a hill near the eastern coast of Egypt, known to-day 
as Gebel Rusas, which is Arabic for Lead Mountain, 
where ancient lead workings still exist, and the deposits 
of galena and cerussite are being exploited at the present 


time. Old lead workings also exist at the Jasus Valley 
near the Red Sea. 

The only other metal known to the early Egyptians 
was antimony, but it is improbable that they regarded 
it as a metal. A preparation of it was used for colouring 
the face round the eyes from the earliest times, and it is 
said that beads of it dating from about B.C. 800 have 
been unearthed, but it has never been found in any shape 
or form in which its metallic attributes were required. 

Brass was unknown until Roman times. The articles 
of this alloy found in Egypt belonging to that period 
may probably have been introduced in the manufactured 
state. There are apparently no zinc ore deposits of econ- 
omic value in the country, although calamine occurs at 
Gebel Rusas in combination with galena and cerussite. 

In view of the considerable quantities of manganese 
ores that exist in Sinai, and also seeing that they were 
used in the early days in the preparation of glazes, etc., 
no doubt the Egyptian metallurgists attempted the 
difficult task of reducing them so as to get the metal. 
No analyses of Egyptian bronze or copper that have 
been published show manganese as an ingredient or 

Notwithstanding their different degrees of permanence, 
we possess to-day specimens of all the metals and alloys 
known to the ancient Egyptians. The metallurgist, in 
handling these relics, is seized with a desire to open them 
up, to pry into their internal constitution and composi- 
tion, and to get what information he may from a means 
of investigation which, whilst educative, is unfortunately 
destructive : the archaeologist, on the other hand, touches 
each fragment almost with reverence ; his thoughts go 
back to some beautiful queen, with whom he has acquired 
a thorough post-mortem acquaintance, and visualises 


her placing the ornament round her royal neck ; or to 
some pagan temple, every niche of which he knows, and 
pictures its ponderous wooden doors swinging on the 
massive hinges of bronze which now lie before him. 

However, most of the antiquities, metallic or other- 
wise, that have been preserved to us by the sandy soil 
of Egypt, were connected, either directly or indirectly, 
with the burial of the dead, and it is chiefly because the 
ancients were so thoughtful of their lives beyond the 
grave that we are enabled to learn something of the 
beginnings of the first industries and arts. 




At the beginning of the dynastic period, copper founding 
and manipulation were well understood. The articles 
made were small and chiefly of a useful, rather than an 
ornamental, nature. Thus chisels, knives, daggers, and 
similar implements figure amongst finds belonging to the 
1st Dynasty. 

Some writers have stated that open moulds must have 
been employed for making these early tools, as copper 
cannot be satisfactorily cast in closed moulds. It is 
very improbable, however, that the copper of these 
primitive days was sufficiently pure to possess this 
characteristic, because specimens analysed have in- 
variably contained arsenic, and appreciable amounts of 
other impurities, such as iron, nickel, cuprous oxide, etc. 
The following is a typical analysis, being that of a copper 
dagger of this dynasty : — 

Arsenic, . 

0-39 per cent. 


0-08 „ 







Nickel, . 


Cuprous oxide. 

not determined. 

ther authentic specir 

nen o 

f the 1st Dynasty 


amined by the author was a copper chisel, the metal of 
which contained much cuprous oxide, not due to cor- 
rosion, but introduced during melting. 

From the microscopical examination of these articles 
and others, their mode of manufacture is quite clear, and 
the process appears to have continued in vogue for the 
making of copper and bronze tools and weapons of a 
plain nature, for many centuries. 

The article was first cast approximately to its finished 
shape, the cutting edges being hammered out afterwards 
when the metal was cold. This confirms the opinion of 
Professor Gowland and others that the hardness of the 
cutting edges of antique copper and bronze implements 
was due solely to hammering. Some grinding may have 
been done to the edges, but, as this would remove the 
hard skins which had been intentionally produced by 
hammering, it is likely to have been applied to wood- 
working tools only. 

The writer believes that during the iind Dynasty 
(B.C. 3000) cored copper castings were being made, but 
the only specimen that has passed through his hands is 
a copper spout broken off an abriq, or water vessel, 
authoritatively assigned by the Egyptian Antiquities 
Department to that Dynasty. This article had un- 
doubtedly been cast on a core, and almost certainly by 
the wax process which subsequently came to be used 
so extensively in this country. 

A bronze object belonging to the iiird Dynasty, 
which was found at Medum, is alluded to by different 
authors as a rod and a ring. It is generally regarded as 
a purely fortuitous production of bronze, chiefly because, 
if the Piupi statue previously alluded to eventually turns 
out to be copper, no other bronze object prior to the 
xviiith Dynasty has been discovered. There are, of 


course, appreciable numbers of copper articles, such as 
tools, etc., belonging to intervening periods. 

The next dynasty of which important specimens of 
metal work have survived is the sixth. The life size 
statue of Piupi in the Cairo Museum belongs to this 
dynasty ; and with it there is also one of his son. 

As the authorities decided not to clean the statue, 
the surface remains crusted with a thick coating of oxy- 
chloride and carbonate of copper, but its inlaid eyes of 
black and white inlay of enamel still give it a very 
striking appearance. From the photograph which appears 
in Fig. 1, on p. 8, the reader will be able to form some 
idea of the attractive appearance it must have possessed 
when in its original metallic state, probably bearing some 
delicate and pleasing patina. Unfortunately, the work 
was not discovered intact, and a kilt supposed to have 
been made of electrum is missing. Several writers have 
said that the head and extremities were cast, and that 
the body and limbs were hammered to shape, the different 
parts being subsequently joined up by welding. This is 
quite improbable. The question of alleged welding of 
copper and its alloys by the ancient Egyptians will be 
discussed later, but, from his experience of other early 
metal work and a general study of the whole subject, 
the author considers it much more likely that all the 
various parts were cast and rivetted together ; in fact, 
rivet holes can be seen in places. But this opinion is 
necessarily given with some reserve, as the specimen is 
kept in a sealed glass case, and the author has had no 
opportunity of examining it closely. The thickness of 
the metal of the body and limbs (regardless of the amount 
of oxidation which now tends to mask it) confirms the 
author in his opinion, as it would be impossible to raise 
metal to such perfect external shape by any means 


available to the ancient Egyptians, or indeed even at 
the present time, by hand, unless the metal were very 
thin when finished. 

This statue appears then to have been wholly made 
by the cire perdu or waste wax process, a method that 
was not introduced into Greece, the country to which 
we owe the most perfect antique examples of it, until 
about 600 B.C. — that is to say, some two thousand years 

Although the cire perdu process of casting has been 
many times described, a short outline of it will not be 
out of place here. 

We have seeoi that the process is of great antiquity, 
and that, in all probability, the Egyptians originated 
it : to-day it remains in use in the jewellery and metal 
work trades with very few alterations or improvements. 
In its simplest form it may be employed for making soHd 
castings, the model being fashioned in wax, accurate in 
shape and detail, coated with the moulding substance, 
and afterwards embedded in sand, loam, or other similar 
material to support the mould. The whole is then heated 
and the wax model is either wholly burnt away or poured 
off through holes left for the purpose or through the 
" gate " (the hgle prepared for admission of the molten 
metal). The mould is then ready for receiving the 
molten metal. 

According to old records, besides being used as food, 
honey was available for embalming purposes, and so 
there was no doubt a plentiful supply of beeswax always 
to be had for modelling purposes. 

The statue of Piupi is our earliest example of a bronze 
or copper statue made by the cire perdu process. This, 
like many other smaller statues and statuettes that have 
been preserved to us, is a cored casting, and the 


production of this kind of casting is much more compH- 
cated than the simple process described above. 

Whether it was for reasons of economy with regard to 
metal, or lightness in weight of the finished articles, or 
because of difficulties in procuring large amounts of wax, 
that hollow cas;bing was introduced, we do not know, but 
the genius who first invented the process of cored casting 
deserves to be remembered amongst the pioneers of the 
founders' craft. We do find, however, that the process 
was laboriously applied to very small articles, which 
rather indicates that saving of metal rather than weight 
was one of the main objects. 

The modifications introduced by the ancient Egyptians 
when doing cored work by the waste wax process were 
as follows : — 

The sand or loam core was formed roughly to the shape 
of the article to be made, and afterwards it was given a 
thin coating of wax. This coating received the shaping 
and moulding at the hands of the sculptor. The mould 
itself was applied over the wax in the same way as for 
solid castings, but some means was required for pre- 
venting any movement of the core after the wax was 
run off. Professor Flinders Petrie, in his work on the 
Arts and Crafts of Ancient Egypt, says that the method 
by which the Egyptians accomplished this is a doubtful 
matter, and he goes on to say that out of some hundreds 
of unfinished bronzes that he has examined, he has never 
found any connection above the base between the core 
and the metal. There is, however, no need to confine 
such examinations to unfinished articles, as in finished 
ones the core material is often found intact, except, of 
course, that destructive examination cannot generally 
be applied to sound specimens, as they are very 


In later times, it is known that iron cross supports 
passing from the core, through the wax, to the mould 
were used, and this method continues in use at the present 
time. Some writers assert that the earlier Egyptians 
used supports of bronze. This is unlikely, because, being 
relatively small, the molten metal would melt them when 
poured in. 

The question as to how the cores were secured is, 
however, not such a difficult one as it appears. The 
writer fortunately obtained an early Egyptian bronze 
article, the use of which is not apparent. He submitted 
it to several archaeologists, but none could state the 

Fig. 5. — Bronze Foot. 

probable use of the object ; on each side it w^as engraved 
with a lotus flower and the Ankle or symbol of life. 
As will be seen from Fig. 5, it is something like the 
shape of a human foot, and when received contained a 
sand core wholly enclosed by the metal. It was, there- 
fore, certain that there must have been some means of 
holding the former during casting, and a minute investi- 
gation showed that an iron wire strut had been employed. 
The strut was still in place, but, being completely oxidised 
in the' black core material and to some extent diffused 
amongst it, it was only detected with difficulty. 

The struts in small articles being so thin (in the case 


of the casting above described the section only measured 
\ inch by tjV inch), they are completely oxidised, and 
only with difficulty can the swollen and disintegrated mass 
of oxide be recognised amongst the sandy core. The 
difficulties due to the oxidation of iron wires as described 
above probably explain why Professor Flinders Petrie 
has never found a retaining strut in an antique casting 
of Egyptian origin. 

A photograph of a section of the casting referred to 
will be found in Fig. 6. The position of the iron wire 
is shown, whilst the portion of the core material per- 

Fig. 6. — Section of Bronze Foot. 


-Bronze Charm Box. 

meated with ferric oxide has been left in place, and is 
just discernible in the illustration. 

Another specimen of a casting with a wholly enclosed 
core, and which contained the remains of an iron strut, 
is that shown in Fig. 7. It was intended as a charm, 
and probably originally contained some part, perhaps a 
tooth, of a crocodile or lizard. There is a model of the 
animal on the top. When the author got it, one side 
had already been broken open and the contents removed, 
so it is not known what substance the enclosed relic 
was embedded in. The photograph shows one of the sides 


after filing, and the position of the iron strut (wholly 
oxidised) which was thereby exposed is marked. 

The sun and snake emblem, originally fixed to the 
head of a statuette, and the statuette head shown in 
Figs. 8 and 9, were both hollow castings, and each had 
an iron strut. In the former the strut went through the 
centre, and in the latter it passed straight through the 
head just above the ears. In both, the diameter of the 
wire was not more than one-sixteenth inch, and was 
completely rusted. 


-Sun and Snake Emblem. 

Fig. 9. — Head of Statuette. 

It should not be overlooked that most of the cored 
articles found to-day are small in size and nearly all 
have at least one hole somewhere, as part of their design, 
through which a very substantial support of some kind 
could have passed from the core to the mould, and these 
small articles would not generally need more than one 
support. Even the various parts of the Piupi statue 
could have been cast with no other supports than those 
which could have been passed through the open end of 
each piece. 


As the cire perdu process of casting gave a perfect 
reproduction of the finest details of the model, little 
work was left for the engraver to do afterwards. It 
was a difficult system to work, because the wax coating 
had to be very uniform in thickness, in order to prevent 
flaws in the solid metal owing to unequal contraction at 
places of varying thickness ; and also considerable diffi- 
culties in ensuring flow of the metal to all parts had to 
be met. 

One of these difficulties is exemplified in the portion of 

Fig. 10. — Statuette of Goddess Isis. 

a statuette of the Goddess Isis, bearing Horus on her 
knee (Fig. 10). The body was cored, whilst the arms 
and the child had necessarily to be solid. At the part 
where the right forearm and hand of the goddess-join 
her body, the metal was thick as compared with that 
of the body itself, and so the unequal contractions of ;the 
solidifying metal caused a flaw. This flaw permitted the 
corrosive elements to penetrate, and so in time produced 


the hole seen in Fig. 11, the photograph of the body of 
the goddess having been taken after the arm had been 
removed. This difficulty must have been a considerable 
one in the early working of the cire perdu process by the 
ancient Egyptians ; and it has not been without influence 
upon the decay of the products. 

Another example of earl}^ bronze founding troubles 
occurs in the peculiar bronze casting, Fig. 5, alluded 
to previously. When it came into the author's hands 
one side was bulged outwards and cracked, as shown in 

Fig. 11. — Body of Isis : Arm removed. 

the photograph. A microscopic examination of a section 
of this side proved that the bulge occurred during solidi- 
fication of the metal, and must, therefore, have been due 
to the gases escaping from the core. The founder evi- 
dently had not taken the precaution of thoroughly drying 
and venting the cores before casting. 

The excellent reproduction of detail and decoration 
in the castings of the ancient Egyptians was partly due 
to the moulding material used, which was of a smooth, 


non-lumpy nature, being no doubt plaster of Paris with 
a suitable admixture of fine sand or ground brick. 

It has been stated that plaster could not have been 
used, as it crumbles to powder at 260° C, and bronze 
moulds must be heated to a much higher temperature. 
As a matter of fact, plaster of Paris, with an admixture of 
some other more refractory material, such as brick dust, 
is in common use to-day for bronze casting. 

Many of the artistic productions of the early Egyptian 
copper and bronze founders could not have been pro- 
duced by any other process. Some are so small that 
for the undercut parts no methods of coring or sectional 

Fig. 12. — Bronze Snake Crown. 

moulding would do. The solid castings were generally 
submitted to much engraving for the fine details, but in 
most of the hollow work the thinness of the metal pre- 
vented this, and so the artist finished the wax model 
perfectly, leaving very little ornamentation to be applied 
by the engraver. This system, of course, presented no 
great difficulties, because the cire perdu process of 
casting is the one above all others suitable for the perfect 
reproduction of intricate detail and thin sections. 

The bronze multiple snake crown, of which a photo- 
graph appears in Fig. 12, shows details of the modelling. 
The manner of fixing the wax snakes round the frame 


is apparent from their overlapping in places at the 

Fig. 13 is also of interest, because it shows some details 
of the foundry practices of the early days. The specimen 
is an unfinished casting of the legs of a bird. Whether 
a body was formerly attached to them cannot now be 
ascertained. The side view shows one runner from the 
" pour " to the bottom plate or stand, and another 
joining the two legs. From the shape and form of the 

Fig. 13. — Unfinished Casting, showing " Gates." 

runners, it is possible to picture the little rolls of wax 
as the modeller fixed them after completing the model. 
The Egyptian workers had already found the necessity 
of having several runners, even in small work. 

This specimen was a solid casting, so most of the 
detail and finishing was left for the engraver to do. 
In the front view, Fig. 14, the chisel marks left by the 
engraver after he had commenced to smooth the surface 
are clearly visible. It is, however, rather curious that 
he did not remove the runners before he began this 

The cores found in hollow bronze castings of ancient 
Egypt have been variously described as blackened sand 


with a little organic matter, and as a mixture of sand 
and charcoal. 

They are generally black or of a dark slate colour, 
being no doubt sand from deposits on the Nile bank 
similar to that used for founding in Egypt to-day. The 
author has only come across one example with a core 
reddened by heat and approximating more to the loam 
used in English foundries. 

The organic matter is chiefly carbon, and when origin- 
ally added would no doubt have been either bone dust or 
sawdust, put in with the object of producing the necessary 

Fig. 14. — Chisel Marks on Unfinished Casting. 

porosity when burnt out during the filling of the 

One of the best and largest specimens of cored work 
that has been discovered is the bronze lion that is de- 
picted in Fig. 15, which belongs to the Saitic period, 
and is supposed to have formed part of a door fastening 
of some kind. The artistic merit of the production does 
not call for comment here ; it was the effort of the 
sculptor who modelled the wax, and there was, therefore, 
no pattern maker to be commended. The actual casting 


of the article would present no difficulties, but it may 
be observed that the links were cast, and their production 
as a chain would undoubtedly be a pretty little problem 
for the founder. The measurements of the specimen 
are lOj inches high by 25 inches long, 'and it is hollowed 
from the end, at the tail of the animal. 

Another good example is that of the portrait statuette 

Fig. 15. — Bronze Door Fastening. 

of Rameses IV. (xxth Dynasty), the front view of which 
is shown in Fig. 2 (Chapter I.), and the back view in 
Fig. 16, of which the limbs are missing. In this case 
a good deal of tooling was left to be done after the casting 
was made, and so the metal was made fairly thick. The 
engraving was very neatly done, both on the back and 
the chest, and even to-day the statuette preserves a very 



striking likeness. The limbs were cast separately and 
joined to the body in a manner which will be described 
later. Portrait statues of Pharoahs in bronze are rare 
and valuable. 

Probably the best example of early hollow casting is 


6. — Statuette of Rameses IV 
Back View. 

Fig. 17. — Statue of Horus. 

a statue of Horus, now in the Louvre, of which a photo- 
graph appears in Fig. 17. This specimen is one of the 
largest in existence, being about half life size, and is stated 
to belong to the xviiith Dynasty. 


Of cored work of Roman times in Egypt, the bronze 
vase (Fig. 18) may be given as an example. It is, of 
course, not a specimen of the best work of the Roman 
period, but it is of interest as showing the remarkable 

Fig. 18. — Bronze Vase. 

regularity of thickness of the metal. The photograph 
of the half -section (Fig. 19) shows this clearly : the 
wax modelling must have been perfect. 



A good example of a solid casting is given in Fig. 20. 
This is a statuette of the God Thoth. It was cast in 
sections and cleverly joined. Had the attempt been 
made to cast the figure in one piece, it is probable that 

Fig. 19. — Section of Bronze Vase. 

the extended arms of the wax model would have tended 
to droop, and thus have spoilt the work. The modelling 
was well done, the figure being perfectly proportioned. 
The attainment of anatomical correctness (in so far as 


it follows the human form) in a model made up of separate 
parts joined together must have been a matter of some 
difficulty. There are, however, many Egyptian statuettes 
of even greater merit than this example. 

Many of the statuettes, especially those of which the 

Fig. 20.— Statuette of God Thoth. 

bodies were cored, were cast in sections and the limbs 
cleverly fitted to the bodies by mechanical joints — that 
is to say, without any binding medium such as solder or 


These joints were no doubt hidden to some extent 
by hammering the visible dividing Unes, or in some 
instances by engraving a decorative arm band. Many 
statuettes are now found minus the hmbs, the latter 
having fallen out of their sockets as corrosion advanced. 

The types of joints used by the ancient Egyptians 
were chiefly variations of the ordinary mortise joint. 
In the simplest type the two surfaces were ground quite 
flat, and were held together by a central bronze pin. 

This type of joint generally occurs midway between 

Fig. 21. — Section through Arm-iomt. 

the shoulder and the elbow ; it was also sometimes used 
for affixing the feet. 

The most intricate type of joint that the author has 
seen is that on the statuette of Rameses IV. shown in 
Fig. 16. 

Fig. 21 is a photograph of an arm- joint cut through 
the mortise and tenon. The jointing was very well 
done, and may be taken as an example, on a small 
scale, of fitters' work of early Egyptian times. The 
tongue which projected from the shoulder of the specimen 
is readily distinguished from the two sides of the socket, 


because it was made of poorer metal, which corroded 
more readily than that of the arm itself. 

Another pattern of joint which must have required 
skill on the part of the early workers in order to secure 
a rigid fit, is that found on the statuette of Horus, in 
the Louvre, shown in Fig. 17. In this the tenon is not 
part of the metal of the body, but is separate, and is 
fitted to the latter in a wedge-shaped seating as depicted 
in the drawing in Fig. 22. The tenon is simply a trape- 
zoidal projection which was fitted into a suitable hole 

Fig. 22. — Joint of Horus. 

through the arm, and the tenon would no doubt be 
ri vetted over afterwards. 

Portions of head-dresses, beards, and decorative pieces 
were also sometimes cleverly mortised into the bodies 
of statues and statuettes. 

The bulk of early artistic casting having been done 
by the wax process, the craft of the old moulders was less 
important and less scientific than it is to-day, but still 
much skill was required in the selection of materials for 
cores, and in arranging the moulds so that the molten 
metal would run to the thinnest parts. They certainly 
specialised in thin castings. So far as we know, there 


was no moulding in loam or sand by means of flasks or 
similar contrivances, and, therefore, no wooden patterns 
or core boxes were required. 

It may be remarked that the ancient Egyptians were 
very successful in casting metals and alloys which we 
should regard as being very impure and of unsatisfactory 

Fig. 23. — Mould for Oniamental Head of Pedestal. 

composition. It is almost certain that they always heated 
their moulds prior to pouring ; in fact, most of the 
finest work could not have been produced otherwise. 

Plain articles, such as chisels, etc., were no doubt 
sometimes cast in open moulds ; indeed, some of the 


latter are said to have been found, but closed stone 
moulds in two halves were certainly in use, and even 
bronze moulds may have been used, but probably not 

There is in the Cairo Museum half of a stone mould 
of an ornamental head for a pole or pedestal. A drawing 
of it is given in Fig. 23. It has two replacing holes, and 
it was clearly used for making shell castings in the manner 
in which cheap statuettes are produced to-day, by filHng 
the mould and, when a skin has solidified, pouring off 
the remaining liquid metal. Hollow bronze castings 
identical in type with this mould have been found, and 
may be seen in Cairo Museum. 

So far as the author is aware, there are no other antique 
Egyptian moulds for bronze in existence, but two of 
Assyrian origin may be quoted, as with the considerable 
intercourse that took place between the two countries 
during dynastic times, it is almost certain that they 
were general types introduced into Syria from Egypt, 
or, conversely, that they must have been introduced into 
Egypt during that time, although as yet no specimens 
have been unearthed in the latter country. 

The first is a mould made of bronze for making arrow 
tips found near Mossul ; drawings of it are given in 
Fig. 24, taken from a communication by E. A. Budge 
to the Society of Biblical Archaeology, Proc, 1884, vi., 
109. The following is the description given : — 

This bronze mould for arrow heads is a perfect specimen ; 
it is 2f inches in height and IJ inches in width. The 
movable dies, when fitted in their places, are 2J inches 
across, and the base 3f inches. The mould consists of 
six pieces : an elliptical base, hollowed to a depth of 
f of an inch, containing three tapering bronze points 
(which formed the cores of the arrows), situated at regular 


intervals of half-an-inch from each other, the middle 
one being 1 inch high, and the other two | inch. At 
each end of this portion (outside) there is a projection, 

Fig. 24. — Mould for Arrow Tips. 

which would almost lead one to suppose that it was 
fixed in wood or stone. Four pieces of bronze, A, B, 


C, D, being the movable dies mentioned above, fit into 
the base accurately, and together with it form the actual 
mould of the arrow heads. The whole is held together 
by a movable ring of bronze fitting closely over the top 
of the mould. Three arrow heads could be cast in this 
mould at one time : two three-bladed, and one one- 
bladed. The single-bladed arrow head, showing a barb 
cast on the shaft, is also shown in Fig. 24 ; the other 
two castings from the same mould are of the same form, 
with the exception that they are three -edged, somewhat 
resembling a bayonet. Drawings (2) and (3) are some- 
what similar ones found at Babylon. The inner surfaces 
of the dies are carefully smoothed, and the dividing lines, 
sHghtly engraved in order to ensure precision in cutting 
the mould, still remain. 

It is now in the Babylonian and Assyrian room of the 
British Museum. The style of arrow tip made by this 
mould is identical with many that are found on old 
sites in Egypt, and this fact indicates that this type of 
mould may have been in use in both countries. The 
life of a bronze mould used for making castings of the 
same alloy cannot have been a long one, but it w^ould 
probably be much longer than the layman might expect, 
because rapid cooling was ensured by the mass of metal 
comprising the mould being many times greater than 
that of the molten metal it was to hold. 

In the Louvre there are several unfinished solid Hittite 
statuettes in bronze with the fins still remaining at the 
sides, thus showing that they were cast in double moulds. 
There is also, from prehistoric Crete, a double jewellery 
mould of granite with replacing holes. 

It would seem that in Egypt the best work was alw^ays 
done by the wax process, but that for statuettes of the 
gods for the poor, who could not afford to pay a sculptor, 


repetition castings from stone moulds were probably 

It is somewhat remarkable that, after taking great 
pains with the modelling and finishing of bronze statues 
and statuettes, the Egyptians covered many of them 
with plaster, just as they did some of their finest sculp- 
tures in stone of all kinds. The explanation given for 
the latter probably also applies in the case of the former. 
The plaster was put on so that the work could be coloured ; 
they showed great fondness and much aptitude for 
painting. Figs. 25 and 26 show front and back views of 
a bronze statuette of the God Osiris, which has pittings 
chiselled over the body to make the plaster adhere. 
Many bronze statuettes were gilded in the later periods. 

A feature of the bronze work of the Saitic period was 
the bringing out of detail of dress and ornamentation 
by inlay. 

In many statuettes the eyes were inlaid with gold, 
but occasionally the whole of the dress and jewellery 
is found to have been splendidly executed in gold or 
silver inlay, similar to some Oriental work of to-day and 
carried out in the same way, grooves having been cut 
and the inlay metal hammered into them in the form of 

One of the choicest examples of this work is the 
statuette of Queen Koramama, xxiind Dynasty (just 
pre-Saitic), in the Louvre. It has an exquisitely traced 
necklace in gold and silver inlay. Another fine specimen 
is in the Athens Museum, whilst the British Museum 
contains several examples, though of less elaborate 
design. Readers able to do so are strongly advised to 
visit the Third Egyptian Room of the British Museum. 

Another branch of Egyptian bronze founding was 
that of making weapons, particularly lance and arrow 


points. Very few swords of Egyptian make have been 
found, and it would seem that this weapon was not much 
used until at least the Grseco-Roman times. 

Battle axes and daggers were, however, made of copper 
and bronze from an early date. Specimens of these 

Fig. 25. — Fittings on Statuette 
of Osiris. Front View. 

Fig. 26. — Fittings on Statuette of 
Osiris. Back View. 

weapons, bearing chasing and inlay decoration, have 
even been found amongst the personal equipment in 
the tombs of queens and princesses, although we must 


suppose these ladies carried them for ceremonial purposes 

At first the arrow and lance tips were simply hammered 
from cast rods of copper to a flat-pointed section with 
two cutting edges, but later they were cast in a variety 
of shapes. Copper and bronze arrow tips were in general 
use in Egypt until Arab times — that is to say, during 
the whole of the Graeco-Roman times — when iron was 
commonly employed for other purposes both in this 
country and elsewhere. 

The earliest forms, being simply reproductions in 
bronze of the types previously used in flint, had a tang, 

Fig. 27. — Arrow Tip. 

as shown in Fig. 27, which was inserted in the end of 
the arrow and secured by tying. Other forms were cast 
with a socket, into which the arrow was fitted ; no doubt 
this pattern came in as an improvement upon the tanged 

Some other kinds of articles for which bronze was 
employed will be found in the illustrations. The copper 
nail (Fig. 28) is authoritatively attributed to the xviiith 
Dynasty (b.c. 1500). It was hammered to shape from 
copper rod, and is very similar to copper nails made 
to-day for certain purposes. Indeed, but for the fact 


that the specimen had a cuprous oxide coating one 
thirty-second of an inch thick, it might have passed for a 
modern production. 

Fig. 28. — Copper Nail, xviiith Dynasty. 

The Grseco-Eoman razor (Fig. 29) was made of impure 
copper, cast roughly to shape, and afterwards finished 
by hammering. Readers may ponder over the efforts 
of a man attempting to shave with a copper blade, but 
it may be remarked that a highly ground steel razor 
is not essential, for natives of several parts of the world 

Fig. 29. — -Copper Eazor. 

still effectively carry out this operation with pieces of 
broken glass or tin-plate. 

Besides tools and weapons, the Egyptians made many 


domestic utensils of copper and bronze, marked very often 
by considerable beauty of form. 

We have seen that the forming of metal objects by 
casting is of great age, and probably an equal antiquity 
may be claimed for another process, " raising " ; that 
of making vessels by hammering sheets of metal to the 
required shape. The author's experience leads him to 
think, however, that raising was much less in vogue in 
Egypt, even up to the Roman occupation, than has been 
supposed hitherto. The process of beating the metal 
to shape was, with the exception of gold work, up to the 
commencement of the Grseco-Roman times at least, 
confined to articles of simple form, and even of these 
most were first roughly cast to shape. Soldering and 
brazing being unknown, vessels required with handles, 
spouts, and similar projections, either had to be cast 
in one piece, or they had to be made up of raised or 
semi-raised bodies and cast projections, the latter being 
fixed by rivets. The former method was more generally 
used, simply because of the difficulty of making water- 
tight joints by the other process. 

There are several allusions in catalogues of different 
museums and other relevant works to bronze and copper 
vessels which are stated to have raised bodies, and cast 
handles, spouts, etc., welded on, and a similar method 
of construction has been attributed to the Piupi statue 
mentioned on p. 36, but the author feels certain that 
these statements are wrong. Welding of copper or bronze 
has never yet been satisfactorily accomplished, and even 
in modern times the joints made by the oxy hydrogen or 
oxyacetylene process of autogenous welding as applied 
to these two metals cannot be said to be wholly perfect. 
Some joints may have been made in early days by pouring 
molten metal over and around the two pieces to be joined, 


the process known as running-on, but this cannot be 
regarded as welding in the proper sense of the term. 

An example of a late Egyptian metal vessel (Roman 
or Byzantine period) with a spout and a handle is given 
in Fig. 30. The entire vessel w^as cast in one piece, and 
the decoration, after the style of a lion's head, seen on 
the spout, was done by chisel work subsequently. The 
evidence for this is given in Chapter V. If this pot formed 
part of a museum collection, it would very probably be 
described as having a body shaped by hammering and 

Fig. 30. — Egyptian Vessel (Roman or Bj-zantine). 

cast projections joined together by welding, but it is 
not so, although it is a very late example. 

As a further indication that raising was not in general 
use even so late as Roman times, the Roman ladle, of 
which a photograph appears in Fig. 31, may be taken. 
This article, which could have been made with facility 
by hammering from a suitably shaped disc of copper or 
bronze, was cast in one piece. 

The catalogues of some museums give accounts of 
vases, bowls, and other vessels supposed to have been 
made by raising, but a microscopical examination of the 


objects would probably show that many of them were 

It is essential to note the difference between raising— 
that is, the gradual shaping of a vessel by hammering, 
stage by stage, from a disc of metal — and the forming 
of such a vessel by casting it roughly to shape and putting 
on the finishing touches with the hammer. The latter 
process appears to have been very much used by the 


Fig. 31. — ^Roman Ladle. 

Fig. 32. — Bronze Vase.Txviiith Dj^nasty. 

ancient Egyptians, but it is quite different from our 
present method of raising. 

The extended use of raising would imply a knowledge 
of annealing, and of the latter we have little or no evi- 
dence. Some of the vessels said to have been wrought 
from bronze and copper by raising could not have been 
made without several annealings during the course of 
their manufacture, as, for instance, a bronze vase of the 


xviiith Dynasty of the shape shown m Fig. 32, which 
was used for washing the sandals of the priests. The 
neck is said to have an internal diameter of IJ inches, 
the thickness of the metal xV inch, and the vessel would 
not be easy to make by raising from bronze even to-day. 
The author fully believes that a microscopical examination 
of the metal would show that it was cast. 

It may also be remarked that the tin content of some 
of the bronzes, and the deleterious impurities of much 
copper work, absolutely preclude the possibility of their 
having been wrought to shape either hot or cold. 

There is some difficulty in getting for examination 
specimens of antique objects of the early dynasties 
which could possibly have been made by raising, as 
vessels produced by this means must necessarily have 
been thin, and thin sections of copper and bronze are 
often found to be entirely corroded, being, therefore, 
useless for purposes of metallographic investigation. 

The question of the time and place of the first method- 
ical use of an annealing process is an interesting, though 
a somewhat difficult one. Many of the earliest metal 
objects now found would need no annealing in the course 
of their manufacture. The cutting edges of tools were 
hammered cold, in order to produce a hardened surface, 
and, therefore, annealing would have been harmful and 

One article that has come into the author's hands 
gives us some information on this question. It is a piece 
of copper strip of the xiith Dynasty, J inch wide by ^V 
inch thick. Lengths of this copper strip were used by 
the Egyptians for tying together pieces of woodwork 
before the days of nails. It would be essential that 
strips for purposes of this nature should be as soft as 
possible, and, therefore, it is not unreasonable to suppose 



that, had their metallurgists been aware that a thorough 
annealing conferred the maximum softness, and had 
they learnt to apply it as a definite process, they 
would certainly have subjected these strips to the 

The sample was very rich in arsenic, containing about 
4 per cent., and viewed under the microscope, it was 
clear that it had never been annealed. There were, 
however, indications that the strip had been hammered 
to shape in the hot state from a thin copper rod, and by 
this means the maker probably obtained the degree of 
softness that suited his requirements, but never thought 
of anneahng as a distinct operation. 

It is almost certain that the hot working of metals 
preceded the use of anneahng processes, and the latter 
would not become essential until raising was employed 
for making other than plain articles in copper and 
bronze. It is extremely improbable also that the ancient 
Egyptians were able to fashion elaborate articles in 
bronze and copper in the hot state, especially if we are 
to accept the statement that handled hammers were 
unknown. For although we know that their iron was, 
and in some parts of the world iron is still, forged to 
shape with handleless stone hammers simply held in the 
palm of the hand, such a method would not admit of 
the careful and almost delicate precision, both as to the 
weight of the blow and the point to be struck, that is 
essential in forming a vessel of intricate shape from a 
sheet of copper or bronze. 

The copper strip previously alluded to was obtained 
from the wooden sarcophagus shown in Fig. 33, now in 
the Cairo Museum. All the wooden joints of this coffin 
are further secured by strips of this kind passing in 
bunches through holes made for the purpose and the ends 


twisted together. They can be seen in places in the 

When the specimen was received, the copper was in 
an unusually good state of preservation, with practically 
no corrosion, having been well protected by the wood- 
work in which it was embedded, and was probably only 
slightly less tough than a similar piece of copper of the 

Fig. 33. — Wooden Sarcophagus. 

same composition that might be made at the present 
time. It withstood ten bendings backwards and for- 
wards through 45° before fracture, thus displaying a 
state of excellence seldom found in old metal pro- 

The following is the analysis : — 



Insoluble matter, 










Cobalt, . 


Mckel, . 




Copper by diff 



The author has come across no antique Egyptian 
metal article of periods prior to Graeco-Roman times 
(to which annealing during manufacture would have 
been beneficial or necessary) which shows indisputable 
evidence of annealing. There is little doubt that annealing 
was a fairly late invention. 

When dealing with these antique specimens from the 
annealing point of view, it is necessary to bear in mind 
the two different ways in which annealing effects in the 
microstructure may have been produced. Firstly, there 
is intentional annealing carried out with definite objects 
in view, and secondly, accidental or fortuitous heating. 
The latter may be subdivided into» annealing due to 
ageing on the one hand, and that due to unintentional 
heating, such as fires in buildings, cities, etc., as well as 
heating during use, such as cooking vessels would be 
subjected to, on the other hand. 

Ageing effects will be discussed in a later chapter ; 
they are trifling in extent. The same cannot, however, 
be said with respect to accidental heating during the 
lifetime of the finished article. In such cases we have 
often external appearances to guide us, although in a 
specimen some thousands of years old, which may have 
undergone several changes of situation both before and 


after the time at which it was lost or deposited, these 
indications may have been obhterated. The writer has, 
therefore, always rejected specimens showing indications 
of over-heating, such as a coarse granular micro-structure, 
and so on. These specimens were few in number, and 
in several of them the external appearance left no doubt 
that they had been in a fire after manufacture. 

In spite of what has been written on the subject, 
there is no positive evidence of welding or brazing of 
copper and bronze, or of soft soldering, before late 
Roman times. Welding of copper or bronze is, as stated 
previously, out of the question, though some repairs 
were undoubtedly effected by a process of pouring liquid 
metal into the hole or around the fracture, as the case 
required, but this cannot be called either welding or 

As evidence of the general ignorance of brazing or 
any similar process of joining metals, the Roman vase 
(Fig. 18) may again be quoted. This vessel, together 
with another very similar in design obtained by the 
author, was produced by casting, but the bottom was 
cast separately, when it might easily have been cast in 
one with the body. It was not brazed in, but was simply 
hammered into a conical seating. This is readily seen 
from the photograph of the section (Fig. 19), and it will 
be noticed that it was not properly hammered home aU 
round. A photograph of the section of the lower portion 
of the second vase is also given (Fig. 34), from which the 
method of fixing the bottom is very clear ; the latter 
remains bent as the hammering left it w^hen put in. 

No soldering, brazing, or welding can be detected in 
the joints of statuettes that were built up of sections 
and cleverly joined together, and surely if any of these 
methods had been in common use at the time, it would 


have been used for effecting any necessary repairs and 
for fixing the bottoms of these Roman vases. 

A silver bowl attributed to the xxth Dynasty has been 
stated by one writer to have been probably produced 
by spinning. In spite of the fact that the forming of 
circular-shaped vessels by spinning the metal is merely 
a development of the process of pottery-making on a 
potter's wheel, it may safely be said that metal spinning 
was quite unknown in primitive times, and, of course, 
was not indispensable for the making of the bowl in 

Fig. 34. — Bottom of Bronze Vase. 

question, as it could readily have been produced either 
by casting and afterwards grinding and polishing, or 
by raising by hand. There is absolutely no evidence 
that the ancient Egyptians possessed a knowledge of 
metal spinning, or that they ever had tools that could 
have been used for such a purpose. 

Wire drawing also was unknown. The fine gold wire 
used in ornamental work was made by cutting strips 
of the metal from sheets and welding them together. 


With regard to the methods used for finishing metal 
objects we know very httle. At first no doubt they 
apphed to metals the processes they had used with such 
conspicuous success upon stone, as, for instance, cutting, 
carving, grinding, and polishing. 

From the beginning of Egyptian history, grinding and 
polishing were done on hard stones with exquisite results, 
in some cases a fiawless, glass-like surface being obtained. 

Fig. 35. — ^Bronze Mirror. 

and it is known that they had emery, whilst, of course, 
fine sand existed in abundance. But something more 
than these materials was necessary for the production 
of such perfect results, and it would be interesting to 
know how, and of what substance, they made the 
powders they used for obtaining the finished surface in 
both stone and metal. 

The mirror shown in Fig. 35 was polished on both 


sides, and, strange to say, it is dished on both sides to 
a depth of about yV inch at the centre. This may suggest 
that some kind of mechanical pohshing with a revolving 
bob was used. 

Repousse decoration seems to have been applied 
only to gold articles at first, and indeed the author does 
not know of any purely Egyptian work of this kind 

Fig. 36.— Collapsible Stand (Closed). 

on bronze or copper. Chasing and engraving were ex- 
tensively and cleverly used on both these metals ; almost 
every statuette bears some engraving. 

In our own time, the methods of working metals by 
hand — that is to say, those processes requiring no 
machinery — fall under the headings of founding, raising, 


engraving, chasing, engraving inlaying, and repousse 
work. All these processes were known to the early 
Egyptians, and were used by them with great ability 
before the commencement of the Christian era. 

As an example of the advance made in mechanical 

Fig. 37.— Collapsible Stand (Open). 

constructions during Grseco-Roman times, the stand 
shown in Figs. 36 and 37 may be taken. This interesting 
piece of work, which may possibly have been made abroad 
and imported into Egypt during either the Ptolemaic 


or Roman period, is a collapsible franae made of bent 
copper strips, and is still in working order, notwithstanding 
the somewhat corroded state of the metal. The photo- 
graphs show the stand both closed and open. Here we 
have the origin of the collapsible frame furniture, which 
is so extensively used at the present time for camp use. 
The bowl shown was simply placed on the stand for 
photographing, and is not an adjunct to the stand. 

Why it should have been considered necessary to make 
such a small stand (size about 4 by 6 inches) collapsible 
is not obvious, but most likely it was only a model 
intended for the equipment of a grave ; there are much 
larger stands of this type in the Roman room of the 
British Museum. 

As the earliest Egyptians, even up to Roman times, 
did not understand brazing or soldering, their methods 
of repairing metal articles were necessarily simple. The 
vase shown in Fig. 18 had a flaw when cast, which left 
a small hole in the side. This was plugged with a little 
rod of bronze hammered flat on the outside, but left 
penetrating inside the vessel, as shown in Fig. 19, as it 
was not accessible for hammering. 

To meet suggestions which may be proffered that 
this rod was one of the struts used for holding the core 
during casting by the wax process, it may be said, firstly, 
that struts were quite unnecessary, as the vase was open 
top and bottom, thus allowing ample means for securing 
the core ; secondly, that the rod was only J inch long, 
and was tapered on the inside, obviously in order that it 
should securely fit the hole and make a water-tight 
seating for itself ; and thirdly, and chiefly, that the 
metal of the vase immediately round the plug was burred 
over into the interior just as the tapered rod had left it 
when forced into position. 


As the bottom of the vase, as well as that of a second 
similar vessel of the same period, was fixed in place 
by similar means, it may be taken as being one of the 
methods of construction and repair in vogue at the 

Another method of rej)airing flaws, which has pre- 
viously been alluded to, was applied to the bronze 
Roman pot in Fig. 38. This vessel had three repairs, 

each consisting of flaws 
that were closed by 
running molten metal 
into them. That they 
were flaws in manu- 
facture is shown by 
the fact that the alloy 

Fig. 38.— Roman Pot. 

Fig. 39. — Repairs in Roman Pot. 

used for the repair is the same as that of the body. We 
may perhaps assume that this method of repair was used 
because the fault occurred in the foundry, and not 
subsequently during use of the article. 

A photograph of two of the repairs as seen from the 
inside of the pot appears in Fig. 39. 


It became a general practice with the early Egyptians 
to make an addition of lead to the bronze used for casting 
ornamental and devotional objects. Whether this was 
done to economise copper and tin, or to produce a pleasing 
patina, is not known, but they seem to have learnt that 
a proportion of lead (in some examples it reaches 33 per 
cent.) simplified casting, made the metal softer for chasing 
and engraving, and that for ornamental objects it was 
not objectionable. On the other hand, in antique 
Egyptian implements we do not find lead except as an 
accidental impurity in trifling amounts. 

It should be borne in mind that the statuettes, of 
which numbers exist in our museums, are chiefly those of 
gods and sacred animals used as votive offerings. They 
were placed in temples and in houses to ensure the pro- 
tection of the gods. This being so, they may be regarded 
as objects of a purely ornamental nature, and it would 
not be essential that the metal should be pure or possessed 
of any great strength. We find that they were generally 
made of very poor metal, and in some cases obviously 
cast from scrap metal. 

The bronze used for portrait statues and statuettes 
of kings and high officials seems, from its external appear- 
ance, to be of much better quality (as also is the work- 
manship) than that of the religious statuettes. The 
metal is harder and more yellow, thus indicating a higher 
proportion of tin and less lead, but analyses have rarely 
been made, and specimens never fall into the hands of 
the investigator because of their value as relics. 

It may be mentioned that the guides and other publi- 
cations issued by museum authorities are not always 
quite careful in distinguishing between copper and 
bronze ; there are several instances in which objects 
are described as copper in one work and bronze in 


another. The errors are due probably to the fact that 
the statements are not always based on chemical analyses. 
This point is occasionally of some importance. 

As an instance, we may take a well-known specimen 
belonging to the xth Dynasty, generally alluded to as 
the Brazier of Khety, and now in the Louvre. In the 
catalogue of the British Museum it is spoken of as a 
bronze bowl, whilst Professor F. Petrie, in his History 
of Egypt, calls it " copper open work of a brazier or some 
round object." 

It has often been asserted that the ancient Egyptians 
used for their bronze an identical percentage of tin to 
that used at the present day, but this statement, though 
near the truth in some respects, needs some qualification. 

It may be taken for granted that they found an addition 
of tin over a certain percentage produced a brittle, 
unworkable alloy which would be quite useless to them 
for most purposes. 

At the present time bronzes for different purposes are 
made of varying proportions of the two constituent 
metals, and, also, additions of other metals are made in 
small amounts to render the working of -the metal easier, 
and to produce other desirable results. The bronze 
alloys in use to-day for mechanical purposes do not 
contain more than 12 per cent, of tin, and this proportion 
we do not find exceeded in the old Egyptian bronze 
objects intended for similar uses. 

It seems very probable that bronze was first used 
for ornamental work, because the early Egyptians found 
its colour more pleasing than that of copper, approaching, 
as it does, the colour of gold. It is almost certain 
that tin was much more expensive than copper to them, 
and no added hardness would be required in such objects. 

For many years it was supposed that the ancient 


Egyptians had some secret means of hardening copper 
and bronze which has since been lost, because, as only 
tools of these metals had been discovered on ancient 
sites, no other means remained of explaining how the 
magnificent works in hard stone were produced during 
the earlier dynasties. 

In Chapter V. will be found the microscopical evidence 
which proves that no secret or other hardening processes 
could have been used, but we may consider here some 
of the factors which may have conferred additional 
hardness upon the copper and bronze made in the old 
Egyptian foundries. 

It is obvious that for the working of wood and the 
softer stones no special hardening of the metal tools 
would be called for. The increase of hardness conferred 
by hammering the cutting edge of the tool in the cold 
state would suffice ; but for such hard stones as to-day 
require the best steel tools for their manipulation, it 
cannot be agreed that hammered bronze or copper 
would do ; in fact, experiments made b}^ the author 
have conclusively proved otherwise. 

A method of increasing the hardness of copper is to 
make an addition of another metal, such as iron, arsenic, 
nickel, etc., but although these are found in old specimens 
of tools in small amounts either as impurities or ingredi- 
ents (more probably the former), they cannot have con- 
ferred sufficient hardness for the special purpose above 
mentioned, and it may be added that the hardening 
effects of these metals must have been much modified 
by the presence of other impurities, such as bismuth, 
lead, and cuprous oxide, which are invariably found, 
separately or collectively, in old specimens of tools. 
Bismuth, than which there is no more harmful impurity 
in copper, occurs in many of the analyses which have 


been carefully made of copper tools, and it is impossible 
thaj; chisels of such impure metal, with its inherent 
brittleness, could have been of the slightest use in the 
chiselling of hard stone. It is certain that, even supposing 
a cutting edge could be prepared on such chisels suffici- 
ently hard for use on hard stone, it would not even stand 
the shock of the blows in carving. 

An interesting tradition that was mentioned to the 
author by the late Sir Gaston Maspero, the famous 
director of Egyptian antiquities, relates that antique 
copper was hardened by heating the metal and then 
quenching in the blood of oxen. We know, of course, 
that such treatment would be much more likely to 
soften the metal than to harden it. It w^ould seem 
a method much more likely to have been applied to 

The idea of secret hardening processes for copper and 
bronze formerly entertained by archaeologists is, how- 
ever, now held by only a few, but is superseded by other 
theories of a more plebeian, but not more feasible, nature. 
These are dealt with in a later chapter, and we may 
say definitely and finally that the ancient Egyptian 
metallurgists knew nothing about these two metals that 
we do not know to-day. 

The latest researches show that the hardness of certain 
bronzes may be modified by carefully applied heat treat- 
ment, but the range in variation is not great, and as 
modern apparatus for governing the temperatures is 
absolutely necessary, the method would not be available 
to the ancients. 

There is, however, little need to spend time endeavouring 
to find out hardening processes that might have been 
applied to bronze, because works in hard stone were 
carved during the extensive lapse of time prior to the 


introduction of tin into Egypt, and, therefore, the 
question is limited to the hardening of copper. 

With regard to the presence of arsenic in antique 
Egyptian copper, archaeologists have stated that the 
arsenic was no doubt intentionally added as a hardener. 
This statement is impossible to prove, and there are 
many arguments in favour of the view that its presence 
is more likely to have been accidental. Firstly, it may 
be said that the hardening properties of arsenic are of a 
low order, and are much below those of other metals 
almost invariably present, as impurities, in these old 
specimens, as, for instance, iron, tin, and nickel. 

From the ferruginous flux used in smelting, the copper 
would take up sufficient iron to confer far more hardness 
than arsenic was capable of producing. Secondly, there 
is no regularity in the amounts of arsenic found in 
different specimens (varying from -02 to 4 per cent.), 
and arsenic is found in articles for which the essential 
property would be softness and not hardness. Thirdly, 
arsenic is such a common impurity of copper that no 
further explanation seems necessary to account for its 
presence in old specimens. 

The argument put forward to support the intentional 
addition of arsenic theory is merely that arsenic has not 
been found in the few specimens of local cupriferous 
ores that have been analysed, nor in the ferruginous 
sands used as fluxes. From the mere fact that some of 
the copper articles contain arsenic and others do not, 
it has been deduced that the Egyptians knew how to 
modify the hardness of their metal. To support this, 
the arsenic content would need to be fairly regular, and 
would not be found in articles for which maximum 
softness would be essential. It seems just as possible 
that copper from some localities contains arsenic, obtained 


either from the ore, the flux, or otherwise in the smelting, 
whilst copper from other localities was not so contami- 
nated. In any case there is always the possibility that 
certain ores or fluxes have been worked out, and that the 
samples analysed have not been properly representative. 

Unfortunately, there are no contemporary records, 
such as tomb paintings and so on, showing the method 
of making and working bronze in early Egypt, and so 
we are compelled to rely upon the evidence of the finished 
articles that are retrieved from the earth, and upon the 
information that the latest developments of metallurgical 
science enables us to deduce from them. 

In the Cairo Museum there is a limestone relief showing 
jewellers melting gold, and we assume that similar 
methods were employed for bronze. 

An old Egyptian crucible was found at Serabit in Sinai, 
and was similar in shape to the bowl of a tobacco pipe, 
with a hole in the side for pouring ; of what material 
it was made is not recorded. 

An old copper smelting furnace was also found in the 
Sinai Peninsula by Mr. C. T. Currelly, M.A. It comprised 
a hole in the ground about 30 inches deep, round which 
a circular wall was built having two holes for tuyeres, 
one 15 inches higher than the other. The fuel used for 
all foundry purposes in ancient Egypt must have been 

The production of copper ore at the mines, its reduction 
to metal, and the manufacture and working of bronze, 
must have been an industry of considerable magnitude, 
but whereas we have of the coeval craft of stone- working, 
a fair show of statues, temples, and other large pro- 
ductions, for all the quarrying that was done in various 
parts of the country, we have practically nothing of 
importance to show to-day for all the metal that was 



mined, won by conquest, and received in trading opera- 
tions. One life-size statue, several parts of what were 
presumably complete life-size pieces originally, several 
about half life-size, and a few portrait statuettes, are all 
the creditable productions that careful and continuous 
excavations have brought to light ; and if we add to 
them the hundreds of little statuettes and minor articles, 
chiefly of insignificant workmanship, the total must still 
bear an infinitesimal relation to the actual original output. 

The explanation lies more in the secondary value of 
the articles as metal, and in the number of revolutions 
and changes of rulers that the country experienced, than 
in the perishable nature of the metal or actual losses 
through the march of ages. 

Even during the Greek and Roman periods there 
must have been many large bronze statues in Egypt, 
for they attracted the notice of Greek visitors. Plutarch 
in his Theosophical essays describes some of them, and 
is at great pains to endeavour to account for the pleasing 
blue colour which they are said to have possessed. Whilst 
this patina must necessarily have been in a great measure 
due to the composition of the bronze itself, not im- 
probably containing gold, the effect was further enhanced 
by a coating of oil which was applied to the surface. 

It is most unfortunate that the majority of bronze 
articles that have been found cannot be assigned to any 
period with certainty. Very few bear inscriptions, and 
the number found on old sites along with antiquities of 
other kinds that can be dated, is small. Most of the 
specimens seem to be discovered by natives who assidu- 
ously turn over the sand in likely places for such small 
articles, and as these persons are often not desirous of 
letting the authorities into their secrets, even the locality 
from which a specimen comes, is not disclosed. 


Amongst archaeologists it is the practice to assign to 
any non-ferrous metal object not found under known 
and convincing circumstances or not bearing marks by 
which they may be dated, or not ostensibly prehistoric, 
Greek or Roman in design, to the Saitic period, generally 
the xxvith Dynasty. 

The number of bronzes that are found in Egypt is, 
however, diminishing. In former times they were not 
uncommon, and the draining of the Lake of Karnak at 
Luxor provided almost a glut of certain varieties, but 
they are becoming scarce and consequently very expensive. 

The statuettes, tools, and other small objects, of 
which we possess such numbers, are ver}^ useful for 
scientific investigations, as well as for enabling us to 
form some idea of the decorative side of Egyptian metal 
work, and of its application, but they do not, of course, 
enable us to estimate the magnitude, nor the refinements 
of early founding, as w^ould large specimens that could 
be regarded as chefs cVoeuvres of the craft. It is certain 
that, unlike the huge and wonderful stone monuments, 
which had little or no intrinsic value to subsequent 
rulers and races, copper and bronze work went wholly 
into the melting pot during or following revolutions, 
wars, and times of national need. 

When we reflect that from a state of ignorance the 
ancient Egyptian metallurgists evolved the foundations 
of an industry which was to have astounding influence 
upon the world's civihsation, we can appreciate the 
patience, skill, and determination with which they must 
have carried out experimental and even research work. 

Did we but know them, we might with justice 
remember the names of the flrst inventors amongst those 
primitive people, of double moulds, of the w^aste wax 
casting process, of " cored " castings, and of glazing and 


enamelling, along with those of their successors in the 
craft of metal-working of modern times, who discovered 
aluminium, electrolytic reduction of metals, and other 
similar advancements in metallurgical science and handi- 
craft. To us, the first quoted inventions may seem now 
somewhat trivial ones as compared with the others, but 
we should bear in mind that, whereas modern improve- 
ments are the outcome of progressive advancement in 
practice and theory over a course of fifty centuries, 
the first Egyptian workers had no such ladder of learning 
to assist them, but started from a basis of absolute 

The fondness that the ancient Egyptians acquired 
for copper utensils in the remote days of antiquity still 
survives in Egypt to-day. The poorest native prefers 
his stew pot to be of this metal in preference to the more 
economical cast iron now in general use elsewhere, for 
he knows copper vessels always have an intrinsic value, 
and to him they act as a sort of bank, just as some of 
his more flourishing countrymen load their women with 
gold jewellery, buying and selling it as changes in cir- 
cumstances dictate. 

Mention should be made of a secondary use that was 
made of metals in the form of their oxides for producing 
glazes, enamels, coloured glass, and paints. Blue glazes 
were applied to pottery even in prehistoric days, and 
subsequently green, violet, black, red, and white ones 
from the oxides of copper, cobalt, manganese, iron, 
and tin. 

We also find that metals and their oxides were included 
in medical prescriptions, as, for instance, a remedy for 
inflammation of the eye, which was made up of myrrh, 
white oil, antimony, and oxide of copper, together with 
other items of more or less medicinal or toxic value. 




There is no doubt whatever that iron in its metalhc 
form was known in Egypt at least as far back as the 
ivth Dynasty ; indeed, it would be somewhat difficult 
of explanation had it been otherwise, seeing that, at 
that time, another metal far more difficult to obtain 
from its ores (copper) was being extensively produced, 
and that iron itself, in the form of haematite, occurred 
in much greater quantity than copper. 

Surface ores no doubt existed in abundance ; articles 
such as head rests, beads, and statuettes carved from 
haematite, which have been found on old sites, tend to 
prove this. 

There are to-day considerable deposits of haematite 
in the southern and south-eastern portions of Sinai 
Peninsular, and in certain parts of Egypt, such as the 
north-eastern and south-eastern deserts, besides red and 
brown ochres and ferruginous sandstones. Readers 
interested in the actual sites of present iron ore in Egypt 
are referred to an authentic paper, entitled " The Dis- 
tribution of Iron Ores in Egypt," by Dr. W. F. Hume, 
Director of the Egyptian Geological Survey. 

Old iron workings occur at Wadi Abu Jerida in the 
north-eastern desert, but these are thought to be Roman. 
It may well have been, however, that the Romans were 
merely the last people to work them. 

The date of the commencement of the iron age in 


Egypt is perennially discussed, and unfortunately but 
little fresh evidence comes along as time progresses. 

An apology is needed for introducing matters of a 
somewhat polemical nature into a practical work as this 
is intended mainly to be, but polemics are almost in- 
separable from archaeology, and, as the subject is inti- 
mately associated with the beginnings of the metal 
worker's craft, a plain statement of the two sides of the 
argument, from a metallurgical standpoint, is not out- 
side the scope of the book, as the practical man will 
thereby be enabled to give his opinion on an interesting 
problem which has not hitherto been so fully presented 
to him. 

Readers should bear in mind, however, that some of 
the archaeological evidence is, of necessity, exceedingly 
slender, especially much that is based upon the works 
of such academic writers as Pliny, Homer, and Plutarch. 
Further, on almost every important question, archaeolo- 
gists of repute hold opposite views, and whilst the 
majority appear to favour the date of 1000 B.C. for the 
first application of iron in Egypt, several, including Dr. 
Budge, of the British Museum, are inclined to believe 
that the metal was used much earlier. 

As iron is far less workable than copper and most 
other metals, difficulties in working may have limited 
its application when it was first introduced. Also, seeing 
that it must be worked hot, and handled hammers w^ere 
unknown at the time, it is quite within the bounds of 
possibility that the men skilled in its manipulation were, 
for a considerable period, few in number. 

Some writers have suggested that the paucity of 
antique iron objects in Egypt may be due to the fact 
that iron existed in a native state in pockets, and that 
these being discovered only occasionally, only a small 


number of articles could be made. But there is little 
need of this explanation, as the oxides of iron are so 
readily reduced. 

This scarcity of iron objects, even in the later periods, 
has never been satisfactorily explained by archaeologists ; 
they content themselves with a definite statement, 
argued largely from the history of other ancient countries, 
that iron was not in common use until about 1000 B.C., 
and they offer no satisfactory explanation concerning 
the several iron articles of authentic origin that have 
come to light from periods anterior to that date by 

We know that throughout the historical period of 
ancient Egypt, magnificent sculptures and other works 
in the hardest of stones, such as diorite, basalt, and 
granite, were executed with consummate skill. In the 
ivth Dynasty, especially, many statues in diorite, the 
most intractable of stones, were carved, and even bronze 
tools were not then available, because tin had not been 
introduced into Egypt by that time. 

A photograph of one of the finest examples in diorite 
of the ivth Dynasty is given in Fig. 40. For purposes 
of comparison an illustration is also given in Fig. 41 
of a splendidly chiselled statue in grey granite, belonging 
to the xviiith Dynasty (b.c. 1580-1350), which was, 
therefore, made about 400 years after the date sometimes 
ascribed to the commencement of the common use of 
iron in Egypt. No great difference in the execution of 
the two works strikes the eye, and yet we are invited 
to believe that two very different methods of cutting 
and carving were used upon them. 

It is important to remember that the fashioning of 
a statue or other artistic production in stone entails 
several different operations. First, there is the cutting 


of the block from the rock in the quarry, which may be 
done by any method of sawing, or cracking by fire, or 
by breaking by means of wedges ; secondly,, there is the 

Fig. 40. — Statue in Diorite. rvth Dynasty. 
Specimen of Earliest Hard Stone Work. 

Fig. 41. — Statue in Grey 
Granite, xviiith Dynasty. 


roughing out done by breaking off large lumps of the 
stone by hammers. Thirdly, and this is the only process 
which need concern us in considering the necessity for 
iron tools, there is the final careful shaping and the cutting 
of detail followed by polishing. 

The following is a list of some of the iron objects be- 
longing to periods prior to 1000 B.C. that have been found 
in Egypt :— 

Iron tool from the Great Pyramid of 

Khufu at Gizeh, .... rvth Dynasty, 2900 b.c. 
Fragments of iron picks from the Black 

Pyramid at Abusir, 
Mass of iron rust from Abydos, . 
Iron spear head from Nubia, 
Iron sickle from beneath a sphinx of 

Horemheb near Karnak, . . xviiith Dynasty, 1450 b.c. 

In addition to these, there are beads of iron belonging 
to prehistoric times, of which Gowland reported that 
they consisted of hydrated ferric oxide of the following 
composition : — 

Ferric oxide, . . .78-7 per cent. 

Combined water with traces 

of COo and earthy matter, 21-3 „ 

vth Dynasty, 2700 B.C. 
vith Dynasty, 2,500 b.c. 
xiiith Dynasty, 1750 b.c. 

100-0 per cent. 

These beads consisted of iron rust, none of the original 
iron having escaped oxidation. They did not consist 
of iron ore, but of hydrated ferric oxide' the result of 
the rusting of wrought iron, of which they were originally 
made. These beads were made from thin bent plates. 

It should be stated that on some of the finds in the 
above list doubt is cast by certain archaeologists as to 
the authenticity of the site upon which they were dis- 
covered, but here again we have one expert against 


another, and it would really appear that some of these 
experts are prepared to swear to the provenance of, and 
to accept without demur, only those objects that they 
have personally unearthed. 

The discoveries are indeed fragmentary, but they 
certainly seem to show that the working of iron was well 
understood almost from the beginning of historic times. 

With regard to the early specimens mentioned above, 
Gowland considered that the first specimen, found during 
blasting operations within the Great Pyramid of Khufu 
at Gizeh in 1837, was not a natural terrestrial product, 
and suggested that it was " not altogether impossible 
that it came from the Sinaitic Peninsular, and was ob- 
tained there by the accidental treatment by the copper 
smelters, of the rich iron ore which outcrops near the 
vein of copper ore." 

The fragments of iron picks from the Black Pyramid 
at Abusir were found by Maspero in 1882. 

The mass of iron rust from Abydos, apparently 
from a wedge of iron, was found by Petrie himself, stuck 
together with copper adzes of the vith Dynasty type, 
at the level of floors of that age in the early temple of 

The specimens enumerated are wrought iron, and they 
indicate that the production of this metal and its manipu- 
lation must have been well understood. Neglecting the 
small prehistoric beads, and considering the next earliest 
specimen, that of the plate from the Great Pyramid, 
it may be said that its size and its state of finish show 
indisputably that it was not amongst the first efforts 
of the Egyptians in the production of iron articles, and, 
therefore, the first working of iron must surely have 
taken place some time previous to the ivth Dynasty. 
These facts dispose also of another argument that has 


been put forward to the effect that the ancients, prior 
to B.C. 1200, knew only of iron as a curiosity. It is un- 
thinkable that they would be content to let iron remain 
to them a curiosity when they were experts at getting 
and working at least three other metals. On the other 
hand, it is quite hkely that iron articles were scarce and 
expensive, and that only comparatively few persons 
were skilled in making them. It is not impossible that 
in its early days iron was only used for those purposes 
which no other substance could be made to serve. And 
if we look at it in this light, we may conclude that almost 
the sole purpose, in primitive times, which no other 
material would fulfil satisfactorily, would be the chiselling 
of hard stones. 

If, as many archaeologists assert confidently, iron 
tools were not available in Egypt prior to B.C. 1200, 
no other implements but those of copper could have been 
used for the superb w^orks of the rvth Dynasty, and 
bronze ones probably after the vith. The idea that 
secret processes for hardening the two latter metals 
were known to the ancients has already been dismissed, 
and further conclusive evidence will be found in the 
chapter on the Metallography of Antique Metals, but 
we may now briefly review^ some of the later theories 
that have been put forward to explain how the ancients 
were able to turn out such fine examples of the sculptor's 
craft with tools of copper or bronze. 

It is obvious to the metallurgist that the sculpturing 
of granite and similar materials could not have been 
done with copper chisels, and although bronze ones 
might give slightly more satisfactory results, we are 
saved the necessity of considering their possibilities, as 
there is a period during w^hich hard stone was sculptured 
of at least 1,000 years before bronze was known. 


The copper tools that have been found would, of course, 
be quite useful against limestone and other soft stones, 
which were much used for sculpture and building during 
all periods. 

Professor Flinders Petrie has stated that sawing, 
cutting, and some forms of sculpturing in hard stone 
were done by copper saw^s and chisels in which emery 
points were embedded. In fact, he even found part of 
such a saw, but as he found it in Greece, and not in 
Egypt, and as it was embedded in limestone, not diorite, 
the discovery is not very convincing. There is apparently 
no positive evidence that saws of this kind were used 
for diorite and granite. 

.Another solution has been put forward in recent years. 
According to this, the stone is supposed to have been 
roughly shaped by suitable tapping with a stone hammer, 
and afterwards the surface was ground to shape with 
emery. This method could not possibly have been applied 
to the cutting of sunk reliefs, or, for instance, to the 
scooping out of a sarcophagus in such a stone as red 
granite. These stone coffins were made from one piece 
of granite or diorite, and measured approximately 1 yard 
high by 1 yard wide, and 2 yards long, and were hollowed 
out, leaving walls about 6 inches thick, perfectly straight, 
well dressed, and square. 

According to Professor Flinders Petrie, a somewhat 
fantastic method was used for the carving of large 
hieroglyphs. The cutting, he says, was done by copper 
blades fed with emery and sawn along the outline by 
hand ; the block between the cuts was broken out by 
hammering and the floor of the sign was hammer-dressed 
(stone hammers), and finally ground down by emery. A 
photograph (Fig. 42) shows the varied forms which these 
hieroglyphics assume, and the reader will no doubt 


agree with the author in wondering how the method 
described could be appHed to the carving of a small 
sunk circle or to some figure with irregularly curved 
sides. The figure is a photograph of the writing on the 
apex stone of black granite from a xiith Dynasty pyramid 
at Dashor. The workmanship is exquisite, and the 
perfection of the cutting is difficult to reproduce photo- 
graphically, but the illustration shows the variations of 
form that were used in the old writings, and how clearly 
their lines and angles are chiselled in the hard black 








Fig. 42. — Pyramid Hieroglyphics in Black Granite, xiith Dynasty. 

If the emery-fed copper-blade method was used for 
cutting out hieroglyphs, it would mean that the statue 
or other object would need to be rolled over and turned 
about so that each surface to be carved could be laid 
horizontal during the cutting, to ensure that the emery 
would remain in the groove. We can hardly conceive 
that after a piece of sculpture had been finished by the 
artist in its erect or natural position, he would relish 
the risk of damage to his masterpiece that would be 
incurred by this method. 

If any special methods of tapping or grinding such as 


these had ever been in general use, it is not unhkely that 
some survival would be found in the existing customs and 
crafts of the country, but there is none. In other trades 
to-day we find implements of types which can be traced 
back to the earliest times : the primitive plough, the bow 
drill, the carpenter's adze, the needle — all these may 
be seen in daily use in Egypt differing in no essential 
respect from those used by the ancient Egyptians, as 
shown in the mural decorations and exemplified in the 
specimens in our museums. 

Even now diamonds are sometimes sawn by an iron 
wire held in a frame and fed with diamond dust, and 
other instances might be quoted where a comparatively 
soft material is used to cut through a harder one with 
the aid of an abrasive agent. For instance, the mild 
steel chamber of a rifle barrel is often worn away by the 
constant rubbing of the cord used in cleaning the bore, 
but the actual cutting must be attributed to particles 
of grit which are held by the more or less greasy cord. 
Each of these two processes has its own particular points. 
They are both extremely slow in action, and are much 
more erosive to the softer material used for conveying 
the pressure (the iron wire or the cord as the case may 
be) than they are to the diamond and the steel barrel. 
A consideration of these processes would seem to give 
support to the idea that a copper-emery process of 
cutting might have been used by the first Egyptians, 
but the author has proved by experiment the impossi- 
bility of cutting granite or diorite by any means similar 
to this. By the use of emery powder, anointed with oil 
or turpentine, no measurable progress could be made 
on the stone, whilst the edge of the copper blade was 
rapidly worn away and rendered useless, the bottom 
and sides of the groove being coated Avith particles of 


copper. For some of these experiments a start was 
made by sawing a small groove with a steel saw, whilst 
for others an attempt, devoid of satisfactory results, 
was made to start a way for the copper blade by scratching 
wdth a flint point, as it was thought that the latter might 
have been a method employed by the ancients, and it 
was quite impossible to start a passage way with the 
copper tool itself. 

The author strongly begs all those who think the 
Egyptians used such a process of cutting, to try it. 
Even with our modern copper and well prepared emery 
of uniform grain-size, the results are, to say the least, 

It is worthy of remark that a process of this kind 
would certainly leave much copper on the sides and in 
the grooves in which it had been used, and that, there- 
fore, traces of green discoloration due to verdigris, 
might conceivably be detected in recesses w^here the 
polishing of the stone had not penetrated, but none of 
the finished or unfinished sculptures in our leading 
museums shows any such signs. 

The reader is invited to ponder over the difficulties 
of a person endeavouring to carve, m diorite, a rock of 
almost steely hardness, by means of a copper blade held 
in the hand and traced round the outline along with 
emery grains, a cleanly cut figure of the pattern shown 
in Fig. 42, with the sides and bottom perfectly flat and 
corners sharp. 

It has never been stated by supporters of this method 
that they do not believe it continued in use after the 
use of iron became general : presumably, therefore, 
they consider it did, because there would be no reason 
to supersede a process that had proved capable of turning- 
out the admirable results displayed by the earlier works. 


There is no such survival of any of these freak pro- 
cesses for the sculpturing of hard stone. On the con- 
trar}^, the makers of fraudulent granite statues, who live 
in Southern Egypt and execute fairly creditable copies 
for the unwary and affluent tourist, and who may or may 
not be able to trace back their descent from their worthy 
predecessors whose masterpieces they imitate, do their 
sculpturing by means of iron chisels of poor quality. 
These shady businesses pass from father to son : there 
is a certain amount of art and skill inherited, besides no 
doubt a fair admixture of cunning, and they would be 
just the directions in which to search for survivals of 
old and particularly serviceable stone- working methods. 

Many of the antique Egyptian statues are perfect 
examples of the sculptor's art ; the hardest stones were 
carved and shaped with unfailing accuracy, faultless 
symmetry and definition : sharp corners with perfect 
angles and knife-like edges, gracefully curved and plumb 
straight lines, grooves and- serrations : deep and shallow 
depressions and reliefs, with delicate, undulating contours, 
or rigidly plane surfaces. To observe all these, together 
with the exquisite tooling of the hieroglyphs, is to be 
convinced that there is one, and only one, way of obtaining 
such results, and that by the use of a chisel. Any rubbing 
process would surely have robbed the angles and corners 
of all sharpness. 

Stone-masons' wooden mallets, exactly similar to the 
kind used at the present time, have been found in quite im- 
portant numbers, and the weight of the evidence tends to 
indicate that stone carving w^as done just as we do it to-day. 

It is not easy to understand the general reluctance 
on the part of archaeologists to acknowledge the evidence 
afforded by the iron articles discovered in Egypt and 
attributed to the earlier dynasties, especially seeing that 


some of them were brought to hght by persons of emi- 
nence in archaeological research, under conditions which 
admit of no doubt as to their authenticity. We have, up 
to about 1400 B.C., a hst of five articles going back to 
the ivth Dynasty, precisely the dynasty when diorite 
was much used. It is true that these finds are few in 
number, but is it any more unreasonable to argue that 
iron tools were in use on the evidence of several discoveries, 
than it is to say that sculpturing was done by emery- 
pointed blades because one tool apparently of this nature 
has been found ? 

The paucity of iron objects may be due to their having 
perished. An eminent archaeologist has previously 
characterised this statement as absurd, adding, at the 
same time, that nothing is more permanent and notice- 
able than iron rust. As to permanency we must all be 
quite in accord, but with regard to discernability, it may 
be said that in a soil permeated with chlorides like that 
of Egypt, iron will rust rapidly, and the resulting rust is 
likely to be extremely friable and readily disintegrated, 
because of the comparatively large percentage of soluble 
salts that are formed. The noticeability of iron rust will 
always depend upon its surroundings, and this point 
leads to the suggestion that the iron plate of the ivth 
Dynasty being found in the pyramid disproves any 
statement that early iron tools, if there were any, will 
by this date have perished. Is it not probable, however, 
that this particular piece of iron was only preserved 
because it was in the exceptional position described, 
and, secondly, would it have been so noticeable had it 
been buried in sand or earth ? This specimen was be- 
tween two stones inside the Pyramid, and was, there- 
fore, in a very favourable place, not only for preservation, 
but for recognition also. 


It may be assumed that, instead of being buriied in 
chloridic soil, it was in something of a dry air chamber. 
These conditions must be regarded as exceptional ones, 
tending towards preservation. 

The untoward property of rusting that iron possesses 
is known to all, and the merest tyro is aware that the 
rate of rusting depends upon the situation. Therefore, 
arguments which are perfectly sound with respect to 
Europe may not apply to Egypt. Antiquities, especially 
those of iron, have seldom or never been exposed to the 
atmosphere during their existence, but are recovered 
from the ground, where they have been buried, in positions 
more or less saturated with moisture, and with corrosive 
salts, for hundreds of centuries, and in Egypt it is only 
articles of a very heavy nature that could survive such 

The author has examined several iron objects found 
in this country. Two small bronze bells of the Graeco- 
Roman period, each of which had an iron striker, showed 
in a clear manner the marked difference in the rate of 
oxidation of the two different metals. Whilst the bronze 
was in good condition, metallic, and only slightly coated 
with a green crust, thus proving that the bells had not 
been lying in an abnormally bad position from the point 
of view of preservation, the iron strikers, which were 
made of wire about J inch diameter, were completely 
rusted to oxide, and were lying inside the bells in the 
form of a string of powder, which fell away at the slightest 
touch. Had these pieces of iron been outside, instead 
of in their protected positions inside the bells, they 
would have disappeared ages ago, and there would have 
been no signs to-day that the bells ever had iron strikers. 

In specimens of cored bronze castings, belonging to 
times older than the Roman period, having iron struts, 


the author has always found the iron completely oxidised, 
even where it passed through the bronze, which itself was 
well preserved, whilst in the material of the core the 
swollen and diffused mass of rust could only be detected 
with much difficulty. 

A striking instance of the difference in the rate of rusting 
of iron came to the author's notice at Alexandria. Along 
the Egyptian northern coast are certain large iron guns, 
which have lain unused now for about 40 years. At one 
fort, facing the sea, where they are exposed to the sea 
breezes and, no doubt, on occasion, to spray, the guns 
have now a coating of oxide from J inch to J inch in 
thickness, w^hich is gradually falling off. In the progress 
of time, these guns, if untouched, will cease to exist, 
and nothing, except a richness in iron of the surrounding 
sand (detectable by chemical analysis alone) will remain 
to show that any iron article ever existed in the vicinity. 

In contradistinction to this, there is another fort only 
half a mile away, but overlooking one of the branches 
of the Nile delta, where the guns are still in a remarkably 
good state of preservation, and the coating of rust on 
them, after 40 years, is unmeasurable. 

It is highly improbable that the authentic iron specimen 
(now rust) of the vith Dynasty would have been preserved 
had it not been wrapped in fabric with some other articles. 
This specimen can be seen in the British Museum, and 
whilst it is likely that it was originally an implement 
of some sort, seeing that it was wrapped with others of 
copper or bronze, it now exists merely as an unshapely 
mass of rust. 

Excavators are too apt to expect antique iron objects 
in Egypt to resemble in appearance those belonging to 
the early iron age of Europe, and they probably overlook 
the fact that in Egypt, if we only go as far back as the 


period of the first authentic specimen — i.e., the ivth 
Dynasty — we are dealing with periods anterior to that 
age by about two thousand years, which means that 
the objects would be nearly twice as old as the earliest 
specimens found elsewhere. It does not seem extravagant 
therefore to assume that the earliest iron objects of Egypt 
have perished. 

It should not be forgotten, when speaking of the 
scarceness of iron antiquities, that ancient copper and 
bronze articles, especially tools, are also scarce in relation 
to the vast numbers that must have been made and 
used in ancient Egypt. 

Another point emphasised by those holding views 
against the early use of iron in Egypt is the fact that 
the iron age in Europe generally did not begin before 
1000 B.C. For instance, Mr. H. B. Walters, in his general 
review of the bronze and iron ages, contained in the 
Catalogue of Bronzes of the British Museum, says that 
the date of introduction of iron working varies in different 
parts of the world, but nowhere can evidence for its 
appearance be got earlier than 1000 B.C. Supporters 
of these views then go on to deduce that, had iron been 
in common use in Eg^^pt previous to that date, it would 
surely have been introduced into neighbouring countries. 
In answer to this argument, it may be stated that sup- 
porters of an earlier date for the iron age in Egypt do 
not claim that the metal was used extensively, but 
merely that it was comparatively rare and used only 
for a few special purposes ; and to this it may be added 
that in Egypt, even after the date of the beginning of 
the iron age in Europe, as, for instance, during the ex- 
tensive use of the metal in Syria (to which country many 
ascribe the first use of the metal), Egyptian iron anti- 
quities are still extremely scarce, and this would appear 


to indicate either that iron was not imported into Egypt 
in great quantities, or, supposing it were, that the rapid 
deterioration of the metal in Egyptian soil is a sufficient ex- 
planation of the rarity of the discoveries on its ancient sites. 

Mr. Walters further says — " The only argument that 
can be urged on the side that iron was known and used 
by the earliest peoples is that it is more perishable than 
bronze. In answer to this," he continues, "it is only 
necessary to point out that in the later tombs it has 
been found sufficiently often and in sufficient quantities 
to refute such a hypothesis." 

This may be true of Greece, but with regard to Egypt 
it cannot be agreed that iron has been found in later 
graves in quantities sufficient to show that its rate of 
deterioration cannot account for its paucity, and it must 
be remembered that there are no Greek works of sculp- 
ture in hard stone of a date so remote as that of the 
ivth Egyptian Dynasty. So far as the author is aware, 
there is no other part of the world of which the history 
and the early culture demand an iron age prior to 1000 
B.C. There are no w^orks in hard stone and no cored 
castings (requiring iron struts) from European and 
Eastern Asiatic countries of periods coeval with the 
first four dynasties of Egypt. The absence of iron im- 
plements and weapons on early sites in Europe, therefore, 
does not affect the question with respect to Egypt. 
Moreover, it is not strange that, supposing the Egyptians 
did use iron a long time prior to B.C. 1000, other countries 
with whom they associated did not take it up, because 
the state of civilisation of the latter was not sufficiently 
advanced to require and work it. 

Another factor affecting the number of iron specimens 
would probably be the religious objections of the Egyp- 
tians to the metal. The majority of antique objects found 


in Egypt are recovered from tombs, and as the religion 
of the time was against iron, no articles made of it would 
be placed in them, and thus the sources that yield the 
bulk of our articles in copper, bronze, wood, and other 
materials, do not give us iron ones. 

With the exception of the prehistoric beads previously 
described, no iron forms part of any jewellery : no doubt 
its property of rusting quickly turned the ancients against 
the use of it for such purposes, and this quite probably 
formed the foundations of the religious proscription. 
We find these objections carried on into Biblical times. 

The iron tools first made would be extremely valuable 
to sculptors, and, no doubt, they would be resharpened 
time after time until they were too small for further 
use, after which they would be incorporated with other 
fresh metal by welding and used again. 

The absence of iron fittings such as door hinges and 
similar articles seems to be sufficiently explained by the 
difficulties the first workers would experience in making 
anything except articles of a very plain form. Especially 
would this be the case if handled hammers were not 
used as archaeologists affirm. Copper and bronze were 
always available in abundance for such purposes, and 
in addition were readily cast or worked to any required 
shape. Articles of this nature could not be made from 
iron until the iron workers' craft was well advanced. 

Advocates of the later date for iron working in Egypt 
take as a further support the fact that on the old tomb 
walls, monuments, etc., there are no scenes depicting 
the making of iron ; but in reply to that it is only necessary 
to mention that there are also none of the making of 
bronze, and none of the manufacture of copper articles. 
These omissions are certainly strange, seeing that almost 
every craft except those of founding and metal working 


is described or illustrated by reliefs or models placed in 
the tombs. 

There are certainly two reliefs in the Museum at 
Florence which are said to show early iron-working. 
The origin of these reliefs is, however, very questionable ; 
they bear only a slight resemblance to Egyptian reliefs, 
and they are absolutely undated. If they did prove to 
be Egyptian, they would certainly be of a comparatively 
late period. 

Further, it is well known that the Egyptians had a 
word in their language for iron, for it was supposed to be 
the celestial metal of which the sky was made, so called 
possibly because of the fact that meteorites fell from 
the sky. 

Iron and steel articles have been identified in certain 
Egyptian carvings, by their being coloured blue. It has 
been said that copper was always painted red, gold 
yellow, and silver white, and that iron was, therefore, 
meant when weapons and other similar articles were 
painted blue. 

Prior to the ivth Dynasty the specimens of hard stone 
carving are rather scarce, but there are some well executed 
works in red granite, as, for instance, a column of the 
iiird Dynasty. The finish of these examples does not, 
however, compare with that of the work turned out in 
the ivth Dynasty and later. 

About the time of the ist Dynasty the sculptures in 
granite, though well proportioned, lack detail, whilst 
the finish of the prehistoric specimens is crude. 

The gradual improvement in the working out of the 
detail and in the finishing of hard stone must have been 
due to the advances in tool making. The archaic 
specimens, which are chiefly reliefs, show traces of 
bruising and scratching as a result of the cutting away, 


and have little or no fine detail that might have been 
carved with chisels. It is quite likely that the bruising 
was done with stone hammers and the scratching by 
flints, but the latter material would be useless as chisels 
because of the ease with which it fragments when struck. 

The magnificent works of the ivth Dynasty and many 
of those of the iiird do not exhibit these peculiarities, and, 
therefore, the whole question of tools, or, to be precise, 
chisels, centres on these. 

To the practical man there really seem to be few 
a priori reasons for refusing to credit the Egyptians with 
the first use of iron tools. They were first in many 
metallurgical improvements. As an instance we may 
quote " cored " bronze casting. This did not come into 
vogue in Greece until about B.C. 600, Avhereas in Egypt 
it Avas fully understood at least as far back as B.C. 3000, 
and probably earlier. The statue of Piupi is an example, 
but there are much earlier ones in the form of vessels 
with spouts. 

It is worthy of notice that copper and bronze were 
used in Egypt for arrow tips up to Arab times. This is 
not easy to understand, unless it was because iron was 
scarce, and all supplies were needed for certain special 
purposes for which no other metal would serve, as these 
tips could so easily have been hammered into shape 
from wrought iron. 

The author fully believes that iron chisels were in use 
by the ivth Dynasty. Archaeologists point out that none 
has been found, but that copper and bronze ones have. 
It may be emphasised that the latter would be quite 
useful for soft stones, such as limestone, of which enor- 
mous quantities, far in excess of the quantities of diorite, 
granite, and similar materials, were worked during the 
whole historv of the countrv. 


It seems highly improbable that there were in vogue 
at the same time two different methods of stone working ; 
one (that of chiselling) for limestone and similar easily 
worked stones, and another, the suggested one of bruising, 
grinding, or sawing with copper blades, for very hard 
stones. Moreover, beyond some differences due to the 
texture of the stones themselves, there are no differences 
in the mode of finish of the sculpture in these two classes 
of stone, such as might have been expected had two 
different methods of w^orking them been used. Some of 
the harder and coarser stones show a slight lack of sharp- 
ness in some of the finer details, but there is no difference 
in the general type and treatment. Hieroglyphs were 
cut with the same ease in each : the statues follow the 
same postures : the same truth to life and anatomical 
correctness appear in each. 

A chisel for stone should possess an edge that is hard 
without being brittle. The hammering of copper in- 
creases the hardness, but it also renders the metal more 
brittle, and the harder metal can only be of use if it 
exists as a skin supported by unaltered metal. In a 
fine cutting edge this combination cannot be achieved. 
It has been said that, by hammering, copper can be 
made as hard as mild steel, but this can only be done 
at the expense of its toughness. Such a hard edge or 
point would be too brittle for use against hard stone, 
and it could only be produced on good copper. Even 
with our own hardened steel tools, the cutting edges 
require frequent sharpening, especially when used against 
hard materials, and in the carving of intricate work that 
might be compared with these statues of early Egypt, 
many chisels of different shapes are necessary. 

Two minor uses for which iron would seem to have 
been of paramount necessity to the Egyptians long before 


B.C. 1000 may be mentioned. Firstly, as struts for holding 
the cores when pouring bronze castings. In the preceding 
chapter we have seen that such struts were actually used 
although from the specimens examined it is impossible 
to say exactly how far back the use of iron struts dates. 
Secondly, as tools for engraving the detail on bronzes. 
Some of the inlaying and other ornamental work on hard 
bronzes (statuettes and statues) could not have been done 
without the aid of a metal tool very much harder than 
the bronze itself. Certain gravers with iron points that 
may have been used for this work have been discovered. 
But, unfortunately, there is no record as to what 
period they belong. The fact that the blades are 
fitted into bronze handles may indicate that iron was 

It is strange that whilst in Syria iron was used for 
the weak parts of bronze castings — that is to say, the 
bronze was cast around an iron support — about B.C. 
1000 (when iron was in general use in that country), we 
do not find iron used similarly in Egypt. This may be 
taken as a further proof, if one were needed, in support 
of the scarcity of iron in Egypt, though it need not be 
regarded as showing that the metal was not made such 
use of as the quantity of worked iron available admitted. 
It also indicates what has been previously suggested, that, 
in spite of the communication between Egypt and Syria, 
there was but little interchange of ideas and examples 
in iron- working. 

Very primitive methods of reducing iron ores are still 
in use to-day in some parts of the world, and they give 
us a good idea of the simple means which may have been 
used by the ancient Egyptians. Mr. Grabham, the 
geologist to the Sudan Government, kindly gave the 
author the following particulars of a process which he 


recently found in use by natives of the Southern Sudan : — 
" The smelting and smith work are carried on by the 
same man, but as more or less separate industries. When 
a native of the district desires a malot, he does not 
purchase it direct in one transaction from the ironmonger, 
but goes out into the bush, collects some iron ore, which 
exists in abundance in many places, and brings it to the 
smelter. The smelter provides the charcoal- as part of 
his work, but the buyer has to stand by and help with 
the bellows while the iron is smelting. This work is done 
in a cone-shaped hut with the eaves reaching the ground, 
and without any proper door. Inside there is a hearth 
made of puddled mud with a hollow in the centre with 
positions for blowers but no raised structure. On one 
side of the hearth is a small basin in which some charcoal 
and ore are placed as an offering to the guardian spirit. 
The bottom of the pit is lined with grass, and on this is 
placed the ' twyer,' and above the mouth of the pipe 
is piled a mixture of charcoal and iron ore to a depth 
of about a foot. Having arranged the hearth and charged 
it, both the smelter and the buyer set to work and blow 
the bellows. The slag runs down among the grass 
below. The stalks are not burnt, but merely charred, 
and remain distinct in the slag which is discarded. The 
metallic iron is left as a spongy mass in front of the 
' twyer,' and handed over at the end of the operation, 
either as it is, or beaten into a solid mass. The smelter, 
who also does the smithy work, uses the same blowers 
for both operations, but the two jobs are carried out in 
separate places." 

"It is essential for the smithy to be near a good rock 
that can be used as an anvil. In this work he has a couple 
of assistants, who are experts in striking with the hammer 
stone. The buyer, having previously arranged for the 


provision of charcoal, comes provided with some green 
sticks that are to serve as tongs in the manipulation 
of the iron. He takes a large share in blowing the fire, 
at which all natives seem to be experts, and the smith 
looks after the heating of the iron. One of the green sticks 
has been split and serves as a pair of tongs to remove the 
iron to the rock anvil. The beating is done with a large 
stone, which is raised above the head and brought down 
with full force in both hands on to the metal. The smith 
squats beside the metal, holds it in the tongs, and shows 
with the aid of a pointer where the next blow is to be 

" The most important use of the metal is, no doubt, for 
spears and malots, but excellent axes and adzes are made, 
and the iron is hard enough to take quite a good edge." 

The process described is very similar to methods used 
in Japan and several other parts of the world until com- 
paratively recent times, which have been fully described 
by Professor Gowland in his several works on the subject. 

The ease with which metalhc iron can be produced 
from its ores needs no comment here. 

Egyptologists and others have given up the idea they 
held for many years that the reduction of iron ores 
needed extremely high temperatures besides elaborate 
furnaces, and, therefore, could not possibly have been 
in use in the earliest times. It is only the iron smelting, 
giving molten metal as a product, which calls for modern 
furnaces, but this process was never known in the days 
of antiquity either in Egypt or elsewhere. 

Even in later times it would seem from the specimens 
that have been preserved, that iron was reserved for 
weapons, and tools for hard work, such as sculptors' and 
masons' chisels and adzes. In the Roman period in 
Egypt metal articles of an intricate or fancy nature 


were necessarily made of bronze or brass, no doubt 
partly owing to the fact that the working of iron was 
not then completely mastered, and also possibly to the 
comparative scarcity of this metal, though, of course, 
the better appearance of bronze would alone recommend 
it for some purposes. 

In stone work of our own times, there is a certain 
amount of roughing out done by breaking off pieces of 
the block by hammering and tapping, but for the final 
shaping and the dressing, chisels are a sine qua non, and 
these are employed in a great variety of shapes and 
sizes. It is with special consideration of the latter portion 
of the sculptor's work that the criticisms of suggested 
methods described in these pages are made. The criticisms 
refer not to the sawing of large blocks, or to the roughing 
out which may easily have been done with stone hammers 
alone, but to the careful and exact cutting out of recesses, 
such, for instance, as the eyes or the mouth of a statue, or 
to the precise tooling of hieroglyphs carved out of the stone 
with curves as free, sides as smooth and square, corners as 
sharp and correct, as many art artist might shape in clay. 

Many unfinished Egyptian statues, and parts of finished 
ones not intended by the sculptor for public view, in all 
kinds of stone, granite, diorite, limestone, and others, 
show indisputably the marks or grooves left by the 
chisel. A photograph of some of these marks taken from 
a statue in the Cairo Museum is shown in Fig. 43. 

The probable practical reasons why iron objects of 
early dynastic times have not been discovered may be 
recapitulated as follows : — 

1. Iron was a rare metal, supplies not being abundant. 

2. It was not used for decorative, rehgious, or 
symbolical purposes : it was not, therefore, placed m or 
used for making tombs. 


3. It was essentially a useful metal, and tools, instead 
of being thrown away when worn, were re-made. 

4. Iron rusts and disintegrates much faster than any 
other common metal. 

Such is the evidence for and against the use of iron 
chisels in Egypt prior to B.C. 1000. Those archaeologists 

Fig. 43. — Chisel Marks on Hard Stone Statue. 

who emphatically pronounce against it will probably 
never change their ideas unless some fresh indications 
come to light. They are obsessed with the importance 
of the archaeological evidence on their side, negative in 
character as it mainly is, and they do not hesitate to 
credit early workers with skill and with a knowledge of 


practices that we, with the progress of five thousand 
years behind us, cannot produce or apply to-day. The 
practical man can only term the alternative stone-cutting 
methods put forward by these experts as impossible ones. 
As to the contentions expressed in this book that the 
hard stone works of all the periods of Egypt, with the 
exception perhaps of some crudely executed ones of pre- 
historic and archaic times, were carved by means of chisels, 
and that the chisels could not possibty have been bronze 
or copper ones, the author believes that no further 
evidence is necessary, and that the stone worker and the 
metal worker of to-day will support his views. 

The question of early iron may be taken a step further, 
and we may ask, supposing the Egyptians did use the 
metal as has been suggested, how far were they con- 
versant with steel ? 

The advance from wrought iron to steel is not such a 
great one, nor is the conversion of the former into the 
latter a difficult operation requiring other than simple 
means. At the present time, much steel, under the name 
of cemented or blister steel, is made by heating iron in 
contact with charcoal, and this metal is used for cutlery, 
tools, etc., whilst the case-hardening of iron, an analogous 
process in many respects, is also in common use. 

It may even be said that chisels of simple wrought 
iron would only be of little more use to the Egyptians 
than bronze ones against diorite and similar materials. 
Is it not quite possible that the Egyptian metallurgists 
discovered that by further heating the iron with charcoal, 
the fuel they used for primarily reducing the hsematite, 
they could transform it into a much harder modification 
capable of taking a keen edge ? 

According to Professor Gowland, the iron plate from 
the Great Pyramid, on analysis, was found to contain 


combined carbon, which tends to show that it was of a 
steely nature. Two other specimens of early iron that 
the author examined also proved to be steely, one of 
them being mild steel of quite good quality. The latter 
was a small cube, discovered amongst a collection of 
objects placed in the foundation of some old building, 
and every metallurgist will agree that the micrograph 
of a section given in Fig. 44 proves without doubt that 
it was mild steel. The other article was a wood chisel. 
Even Professor Flinders Petrie admits that the case- 

Fig. 44. — Photomicrograph of Cube of Mild Steel. 

hardening of iron was known in Egypt before B.C. 666, for 
he says that the edges of certain tools, attributed approxi- 
mately to that date, and found at Thebes, were of steel. 

The author hopes that sooner or later the oldest speci- 
mens of iron now lying in various museums will be sub- 
mitted to microscopic examination, so that the latest 
developments of metallurgical science may be applied 
to them. Provided a metallic core of any size remains 
in a sample, it should be easy to say whether it is iron 
or steel without in any way damaging the specimen. 




Although this chapter must be chiefly concerned with 
metal tools and tools for metal working, it is not proposed 
to exclude all reference to implements of other kinds. 

The outstandmg feature of many of the first tools 
is the persistence of type. In these cases, notwithstanding 
the advance of civilisation during five to seven thousand 
years, man has been unable to improve upon the patterns 
introduced by the Egyptians who designed them, and 
to-day we find tools and other implements identical in 
form and in the manner of their application with those 
of the early Egj^ptians. 

The number of tools that have been preserved from the 
earlier periods is not large, especially when we reflect 
that a variety of artisans must have needed and used 
them. The number bears a low ratio to the quantity of 
works which must have been produced by means of such 
tools, and have come down to us. The carpenter, metal 
worker, jeweller, builder, and sculptor are all artisans who 
flourished from the earliest times of w hich we have records, 
and who would need substantial tools of metal. 

There are some crafts of which we have no specimens 
of the tools used, but models, sometimes of workshops, 
and at others, of the tools themselves, have been found 
in tombs, whilst in other industries, the forms shown in 
the mural decorations of these structures are the only 
guide we have as to the kinds of tools employed. 


Fig. 45 — Model of Carpenter's Shop. 

Fig. 46. — Native using modern Bow Drill. 


A photograph of a model of a carpenter's shop is given 
in Fig. 45. In this there is a double -handled copper 
saw, without teeth, but this omission was perhaps only 
made because the specimen was merely a model. Other 
saws that are in existence have serrated edges in a similar 
way to our own. The man in the centre is drilling with 
a bow drill made of a point of copper or bronze in a wooden 
handle, which is rotated by a bow : the string of the 
latter has perished. Here again the persistence of type 
appears : bow drills of this kind are used extensively 
in Egypt to-day, and a recent photograph of a native 
using one is given in Fig. 46. 

Another tool of the carpenter that has continued in 
use during the whole of Egyptian history is the adze. 
This most useful tool, which serves as a chisel, axe, and 
hammer, is one of the modern Egyptian wood-worker's 
favourite tools. 

A photograph showing it in use to-day is given in 
Fig. 47. 

At first the adze was made of copper or bronze, but 
afterwards of iron. Specimens in both kinds of metal 
have been discovered. 

The first metal blades for adzes were, in shape, merely 
copies of the co-existing flint ones, but as the knowledge 
of metal advanced, the shape became more adapted to 
the working properties of the metal, and it is said to be 
possible to form an idea of the period to which an early 
Egyptian adze belongs by the shape and style of the 
blade, just as a celt of prehistoric Europe may be 
roughly dated by its form. 

The axe is an instrument that appears to have been 
one of the first made of metal, and it was used for war-like, 
as well as industrial, purposes. In prehistoric times the 
Egyptians made them of flint, and naturally the flrst 


specimens they made in metal followed the flint type. 
It was merely a blade with two projections (Fig. 48), by 
means of which it was tied by leather thongs into a split 
stick. This implement, when used for splitting and 
cutting, was not used as we use an axe to-day, but the 

47. — Native using modern Adze. 

handle was merely a means of holding it in position, 
whilst the back of the blade was struck with a stone 
or other article. This is clearly borne out both by the 
form of the axe and by the fact that many of the blades 



are badly burred over at the back, where they had been 
struck with some mstrument. 

It may be remarked that all bronze and copper tools 
(not models) are much burred at the hammered ends, 
but very few at the cutting ends. This tends to show 
that they must have been used against softer materials 
than that of the tools themselves, because it is improbable 
that almost all our specimens of antique tools would 
have been abandoned or lost 
by the ancients in a freshly 
ground state. The author has 
seen very few tools of copper 
or bronze with edges showing 
signs of wear sufficient in 
extent to show that they were 
used against hard stone. 

A gradual development of the 
shape of the axe head took place 
as the art of metal working 
advanced, and finally blades 
with a socket for the handle 
came in, as shown in Fig. 49. 

It has usually been said that 
the ancient Egyptians did not 
use handled hammers prior to 
Greek times. It is somewhat 

amazing that the sculptors, goldsmiths, and metal 
workers contrived to execute the best examples 
of. their craftsmanship with no other hammers than 
hard stones held in the palm of the hand. The working 
of a piece of red-hot iron for instance in such a manner 
would seem to us to be at once a very difficult and un- 
comfortable operation. 

The evidence is almost purely negative : there are no 

Fig. 48.— Axe. 


contemporary illustrations of handled hammers in use, 
nor have specimens been found. On the other hand, 
there are one or two reliefs showing workmen smiting 
an object with a stone or similar object held in their 

To the non-archseological mind, it is also extraordinary 
that the fact that handles were used on battle axes from 
the most primitive times did not lead to their apphcation 
to hammers. 

Fig. 49. — Socketed Axe Head. 

Again, stone masons' mallets were used of precisely the 
same type as those of the present day, and specimens 
of the xviiith and xixth Dynasties have been recovered. 
The use of handles to these would be thought to have 
found its necessary and obvious application to hammers 
of stone and metal. 

There is no doubt that flint chisels were in use along 
with copper and bronze ones throughout the dynastic 
period. The similarity in type between some of these 


old stone-cutting chisels and those of the present day is 

Chisels were required for several purposes. They 
were needed for wood-cutting, for stone-working, and for 
metal- working, the first two being the chief uses. A 
chisel for wood requires a blade with a longer taper to 
its cutting edge, and as a consequence the latter is 
sharper. Our wood chisels usually have wooden handles, 
as likewise have many of the ancient Egyptian ones. 
The latter must have been used more in the sense of wood- 
carving, because their form is such that blows with a 
hammer would merely have caused the blade to split 
the handle. Also, none of the specimens of such chisels 
in our museums shows any trace of having been hammered. 

A chisel for stone-cutting must not have too thin a 
blade, but should taper off from the stem for a short 
distance only, and in this way the cutting edge is amply 
supported, by the body of metal behind, against the hard 
blows necessary in chiselling the stone. 

Chiselling was largely supplemented by knife work. 
Cutting-out knives developed from a simple form in 
prehistoric times to that shown in Fig. 50 about the date 
of the xviiith Dynasty and later. Two cutting edges 
are clearly seen. These were doubtless used for the 
cutting out of wood, leather, and similar materials. 

Amongst the first means used by the ancient Egyptians 
for securing the different parts of their structures in 
wood work, are the copper ties described in Chapter II. 
These copper strips were no doubt a development of 
leather ties which were used for so many similar purposes 
in the first stages of Egyptian civilisation. Another 
.form is that of the clamp which was employed for fastening 
the planks of a roof to the rafter, or for similarly joining 
up the parts of a sarcophagus lid. 


Nails of copper and bronze seem to have followed later, 
probably being derived from the rivets used for metal 
joints from the most primitive times, and specimens of 
all sizes have been found. Iron nails came in eventually, 
and examples are said to have been discovered belonging 
to the xth Dynasty. It was not 
until Grseco-Roman times, how- 
ever, that they began to be used 
at all extensively. 

The student will be impressed 
by the antiquated origin of many 
of our own tools and implements 
in every-d^y use. For instance, 
the ladder was used in the xviiith 
Dynasty. We find it illustrated 
on a bas-relief showing its use in 
connection with the siege of an 
ancient city. Weighing scales 
appear to have been conceived 
during the early part of the 
dynastic period soon after the 
working of metals was under- 
stood. There are many illustra- 
tions of them in the decorations 
of tombs, some of them, it may 
be said, not showing too close an 
acquaintance by the artist with 
the principles of the fulcrum and 
the lever. Other articles, in- 
dispensable to us to-day for their 
individual purposes, which were just as well known to the 
Egyptian artificers, are the plumb line, bellows, blowpipe, 
and scissors, the latter probably of comparatively late 
periods, and a development of the cutting-out knife. 

Fig. 50. — Cuttins?-out Knife. 


The well-formed rivet heads in the photograph (Fig. 
51) might almost pass as modern productions. They 
occur on a bronze door hinge, and show that our present 
type of headed rivets is very ancient. 

Riveting of copper and bronze articles was necessarily 
a favourite means of jointing with the earliest Egyptians, 
because welding and brazing of these metals were 





Fig. 51. — Rivet Heads on Bronze Door Hinge. 

unknown to them. Even from prehistoric times we find 
the thin gold coverings fastened as handles to flint 
knives by means of gold rivets, but the idea of finishing 
off the ends in a properly shaped head does not seem to 
have come in until the influence of the Greeks made itself 




The application of a special branch of metallurgical 
science, that of metallography, to antique metals is of 
recent date ; but it provides much useful information 
on the stability of different physical forms of metals 
and alloys, and upon the corrosion of these substances. 

Much that follows in this chapter must necessarily 
chiefly interest the metallurgist, but an attempt will 
be made to treat the subject in a plain manner, so that 
students of both metal-working and archaeology may 
follow it readily, and the expert will be at liberty to pass 
over the explanatory paragraphs, and, if he does not 
agree with all the author's deductions, will doubtless 
draw his own conclusions from the data and the micro- 
scopical evidence which will be set forth. 

Metallography is the science that treats of the internal 
structure of metals, and one of the chief means of investi- 
gation employed is microscopical examination. By 
viewing a prepared section of a metal or alloy through 
a microscope much useful information may be obtained 
as to its physical state, and even sometimes as to its 
chemical composition. 

Antique metals, being generally very fragile, care and 
patience are necessary when cutting, sawing, and filing 
them in order to obtain pieces for examination. The 


hack saw blades should be very thin ones, with fine 
teeth, and plenty of time should be given to the cutting. 

The specimen for examination is prepared by filing 
a perfectly flat section, then rubbing the surface on two 
or three grades of emery paper, commencing with the 
coarsest, and subsequently polishing on a cloth wetted 
with water carrying an impalpable polishing powder in 
suspension stretched upon a board. It is essential that 
the emery paper be laid on a perfectly flat surface, and 
for this nothing suits better than a piece of plate glass. 
After washing, the prepared surface is etched by a re- 
agent which will gently attack the metallic surface and 
bring into view, by selective corrosion, the different 
phases of which the microstructure is composed. The 
specimen is afterwards finally washed and dried, and is 
then ready for examination. 

Metal sections cannot be viewed by transmitted light, 
as are substances usually submitted to microscopic 
examination, therefore some means of illuminating the 
surface, when moderate or high powers are used, has 
to be devised. This is generally done by fixing to the 
tube of the microscope, before putting on the objective, 
a fitting carrying a prism and having a radial hole, through 
which a strong beam of light, concentrated by a bull's 
eye condenser, is passed at right angles to the tube. 
The illuminant is either an electric light or a gas or 
petrol mantle lamp, but an ordinary microscope oil 
lamp will be found to serve quite well for visual, though 
not for photographic work. 

A short description of the internal crystalhne arrange- 
ment of metals is necessary. The microstructure of, 
e.g., cast silver, if pure or almost pure, is made up, like 
that of all other metals, of crystal grains, which may 
be called '"' primitive " or primary, because they are 


the original ones formed in solidifying from the molten 
state. The crystal grains have no regular external 
geometric form, although they are built up of ultra- 
microscopic crystals that do possess such form. The 
etching agent merely tints the surface in a uniform 
manner and brings into view the crystal boundaries. 
Fig. 52 shows the appearance of the crystal grains on 
a section of modern cast silver. Each crystal grain is a 
separate entity, and is made up by gradual growth along 

Fig. 52. — Microstructure of Cast Silver. 

multitudinous branches (called crystallites) from a centre, 
all spaces between the first branches being filled up by 
new branches, which continue to shoot out in all directions 
until the whole grain is solid. The shape of each grain 
is determined by the interference that the main or primary 
crystallites receive from those of neighbouring grains. 
Fig. 53 shows the branched form that crystallites follow. 
It is the structure of a silver-copper alloy. Copper, 
with which metal we are chiefly concerned in this work, 


also shows irregular crystal grains when the polished 
surface is etched. 

From the point of view of the metallographer, it is 
fortunate that the copper of the ancient Egyptians was 
impure. Analyses show that the principal impurities 
are arsenic, iron, lead, and bismuth. The fact that 
it generally contains appreciable amounts of iron and 
arsenic, separately or together, is of much use in in- 

In an alloy of copper and arsenic, the latter metal, 

Fig. 53.— Microstructure of Silver-Copper Alloy. 

up to a certain limit (about 4 per cent.), is held in a 
perfect state of solution even after solidification is com- 
plete, because it cannot be separately recognised micro- 
scopically, nor can it be separated by mechanical means 
from the copper. Such a mixture of two metals is called 
a solid solution, and in solidifying from the molten state 
the first portions of each crystal grain to crystallise — 
that is to say, the nuclei of the primary branches or 
crystallites — are richer in the metal with the higher 


melting point (in this case copper) than the succeeding 
layers, and this gradual process goes on until the liquid 
metal of each portion solidifying last of all is rich in the 
metal with the lower melting point — viz., arsenic. This 
process is so gradual that there is no line of demarcation 
between the layers of different grades ; they shade off 
into one another. 

In the case of a mixture of copper and nickel, the first 
parts of the crystallites to solidify will be nickel-rich 
metal possessing the higher melting point. The explana- 
tion of the inequality of distribution of the second 
metal in such cases is due to the fact that diffusion is an 
extremely slow process as compared with crystallisa- 

In specimens of such alloys, instead of the surfaces 
of the grains appearing uniform in tint under the micro- 
scope, each one has dark feathery markings due to the 
fact that the intensity of action of the etching medium 
varies with the proportion of the added metal at each 
spot. These markings are technically known as " cores," 
and the reader should note that this is a very different 
application of the term from that previously used in 
connection with making hollow castings in metal. 

As may be expected, the shaded " core " markings 
usually follow the forms of the crystallites, and they 
gradually shade off towards the edge of the crystal 
grain. All metals that are to some extent soluble in 
copper when solid, produce such markings when a 
polished surface of the alloy is etched. The important 
metals possessing these properties (not all to the same 
extent) are, iron, arsenic, nickel, tin, and zinc. A photo- 
micrograph of a modern copper-zinc alloy showing the 
shaded markings, and also the boundaries of the cast 
or " primitive " crystal grains, is given in Fig. 54. At 


Fig, 54. — Microstructure of Cast Brasp. 

a higher magnification (Fig. ^d) the graduated nature 
of the shaded markings is clearer. 

As the shadings are caused by the etching reagent. 

J^ig. 55. — Microstructure of Cast Brass. 


it will obviously depend upon which of the two metals 
in the alloy is more rapidly attacked by the reagent 
used whether the markings shade from light to dark 
or vice versa. 

In some cases, however, the core markings, instead 
of graduating from light to dark, or vice versa, in plain 
brown or black, assume colours of different tints. This 
is especially the case when ammonia is used for etching. 

An alloy in the physical state previously described 
cannot be called homogeneous. As we have seen, some 
parts hold more zinc, or arsenic, as the case may be, 
than others. It is, however, possible to make it homo- 
geneous — that is, provided the alloy is made of such a 
mixture of the two metals that complete solid solubility 
occurs. Some metals are not soluble in copper in all 
proportions when solid. 

Homogeneity can be brought about in the alloy by 
heating it (without melting) for a length of time, which 
varies according to the temperature applied. The 
arsenic, zinc, or other of the soluble metals mentioned, 
is thereby caused to diffuse into the copper until the 
substance of the whole is uniform and homogeneous, 
the etched section afterwards showing only a uniform 
tint from grain to grain. Such a solid solution is con- 
sidered to be in a state of perfect equilibrium, v The 
foregoing helps us to understand the term " solid solution," 
because the arsenic, etc., diffuses whilst the alloy is in 
a solid state, and afterwards remains uniformly distri- 
buted throughout the mass indistinguishable micro- 
scopically from the copper. 

It will be obvious that if the cooling of the alloy, 
when first cast, were made sufficiently slow, it would 
have the same effect on the internal structure (by en- 
abling diffusion to proceed completely), as t]je subsequent 


heating of the soKd alloy, but this is impossible because 
it is impracticable to maintain a sufficiently slow rate 
of cooling. 

The useful alloys of gold with copper and those of 
gold with silver belong to the same category, as both 
copper and silver form solid solutions with gold, showing 
shaded markings on etched specimens produced by 
casting, which disappear on thorough annealing. 

The size and form of the shadowy " core " markings 
in all the alloys described vary with the rate of cooling 
from the liquid state. If the cooling be slow, the crystal 
grains will assume large proportions, and the cored 
markings will be more spread out and much more shadowy 
in their graduation from dark to light upon the etched 
surface. If coohng is rapid, the grain will be small, and 
the shaded markings will be more distinct than in a 
specimen of the same constitution cooled more slowly 
and having larger crystal grains. The crystal grains 
in any metal or alloy may be so small that they require 
a high magnification to bring them into view, or they 
may be large enough to be macroscopic. It will be obvious 
that under working conditions cooling will always be 
more rapid in a small mass of metal than in a large one, 
the methods used being similar, and we may, therefore, 
say that, in general, crystal grains are larger in large 
castings than in small ones. 

The reader will now understand that a pohshed section 
of cast copper containing as an impurity arsenic, iron, 
or similar element, soluble to some extent in the solid 
copper, will, when etched, consist of crystal grains with 
shadowy markings, and, when thoroughly annealed and 
repolished and etched, the shadowy markings will be 
found to have disappeared, the final structure being 
similar to that of a pure metal — i.e., homogeneous — 



nothing but lines denoting crystal boundaries being 
visible on the surface of the microsection. 

The metallography of bronze is rather more com- 
plicated, because tin is only soluble in copper up to 16 per 
cent, in the solid state, and if the tin is in excess of that, 
a second constituent remains even after prolonged 
annealing. As a result of ordinary casting, bronzes 
containing more than 8 per cent, of tin show the presence 
of the second constituent, and between 8 and 16 per cent., 
it is only as a result of annealing that homogeneous 
solid solutions can be obtained. Up to a tin content 
of about 8 per cent, the previous remarks concerning 
arsenic -copper alloys apply fully to bronzes, and samples 
of the latter containing more than that percentage of 
tin are not of importance to us in this work, as the alloj^s 
are only found in antique bronze statuettes and other 
articles not intended for useful purposes. 

Copper and silver alloys are complicated in a rather 
different manner, consequent upon the fact that copper 
and silver are not mutually soluble in the solid state in 
all proportions. On the one hand, copper can only retain 
a small percentage (about 6 per cent.) of silver in solid 
solution, and silver can only retain 5 per cent, of copper 
in solid solution. 

Any mixture of these two metals between the limits 
of these two solid solutions consists, therefore, of primary 
crystallites of either the copper -rich solid solution, if 
copper is in excess, or of silver -rich crystallites if silver 
is in excess. In each case the crystallites are embedded 
in a matrix which has the same constitution. It is known 
as an eutectic, and is composed of a mechanical mixture 
of the two solid solutions, appearing on the etched section 
as fine alternating layers. The matrix is, therefore, 
heterogeneous : its composition is constant, and the 


temperature at which it soHdifies, which is lower than 
that of the crystalHtes, is also constant. Therefore, as 
this matrix solidifies round the primary crystallites 
throughout the mass, there are no crystal boundaries 
to be seen in an etched section, but the crystal boundaries 
may be distinguished by the different orientations of 
the eutectics. The alternating layers of the matrix, or 
eutectic, can readily be distinguished on the prepared 
surface by using moderately high magnifications. 

Fig. 56. — Microstructure of Silver-Copper Alloy showing Eutectic. 
X 90 d. 

In each of the two cases, the quantity of matrix will 
vary with the composition, because the mutual solu- 
bilities are constant. The copper-silver matrix (eutectic) 
may be seen in Fig. 56, at the side adjacent to the dark 
coppery crystallites. The two phases comprising the 
matrix are clearly visible. This photomicrograph is of 
a Greek coin, and is taken at a magnification of 90 
diameters. Silver containing a small amount of copper 


or copper containing a little silver — that is to say, less 
than the limit of solubility of the added metal in each 
case — will show crystal grains on the polished surface, 
because of the absence of eutectic. There may be " cores " 
in such an alloy, but, as the quantity of the metal in 
solution is small, they may not be ver}^ distinct. 

The parts of the structure of copper-silver alloys that 
are rich in copper are more deeply attacked by the 
etching reagent than the silver-rich parts, assuming a 
dark red, brown, or black colour, whilst the silver-rich 
parts remain yellow- white. The copper-rich crystallites 
will never appear with silver-rich crystallites on the same 
specimen, and if either metal is present in amount 
above that soluble in the other, it will be found associated 
with eutectic. 

Lead and bismuth form alloys with copper of a different 
class. They are practically insoluble in both copper 
and bronze in the solid state, and, therefore, during 
solidification they are rejected by the solidifying metal, 
and are thrown out to the boundaries, where they remain 
liquid until the temperature cools down to the freezing 
point of lead or bismuth, as the case may be, when they 
crystallise in the form of isolated globules if the quantity 
is very small, or as a more or less continuous network 
enveloping the crystal grains of copper (or bronze), if 
they (the lead or bismuth) are present in sufficient 
quantity. Lead in copper or bronze is detected micro- 
scopically on the unetched surface as black globules or 
streaks, but if the specimen is a much corroded one, 
they may be grey in places owing to corrosion. Patches 
of cuprous oxide (due to corrosion), which are a light 
blue colour, may at first be mistaken for lead globules. 

Copper, ancient and modern, generally contains another 
impurity, cuprous oxide, which has to be taken into 


consideration. It occurs in practically all copper to some 
extent, and forms with the latter a series of true alloys 
of the eutectiferous variety. The oxide is insoluble in 
the solid copper and forms with it a recognised eutectic 
mixture of constant composition containing 3-5 per cent, 
of cuprous oxide, solidifying at a temperature, 1,063° C, 
lower than that of either of the two constituents just as 
happens in the case of mixtures of copper and silver. 
A piece of copper containing a percentage of cuprous 
oxide less than the eutectic proportion (which is neces- 
sarily the case in copper for useful purposes, as much 
oxide renders the metal unworkable) consists of grains 
of copper with patches of eutectic. This eutectic has a 
characteristic structure, and is readily observed in a 
polished section without etching. 

In the previous pages we have dealt only with metals 
and alloys in a freshly cast condition. We may now 
proceed to consider what happens to the internal arrange- 
ments of such metals and alloys when they are submitted 
to deformation by hammering or other work of a similar 
nature applied to them in the cold state, in order to form 
them into some kind of a vessel or tool. 

We can readily imagine what would take place inside 
an orange if it were crushed. The different sections 
would be quite unrecognisable, and the bounding sur- 
faces would be crushed into and through one another. 
Hammering a metal has a similar effect upon the cr3^stal 
grains, tending to elongate them in the directions at 
right angles to the applied force : their Ijoundaries are 
rendered indistinct, and any globules of lead or other 
insoluble impurity such as cuprous oxide are flattened 
and lengthened out. In unannealed solid solutions the 
shaded " core " markings are also flattened and length- 
ened. In a specimen severely hammered these core 


markings and even the granular boundaries will be so 
flattened, extended, and confused, as to be unresolvable 
by the microscope. The etching of such a specimen 
and the detection of the nature of its microstructure, 
if its history is unknown, is a matter of some difficulty. 
Fig. 57 shows the structure of worked modern brass. 
A cold hammered metal usually also shows many 









V M^^^. 










^9m ' 

Hggtofe/ d 




Fig. 57. — Microstructure of Modern Worked Brass. 

lines, known as slip-bands, traversing the crystal grains, 
sensibly parallel in form : they are produced by the 
slipping of the different parts of the grain over one 
another, and may proceed across the surface of a grain 
in more than one direction. They are revealed by 
etching (Fig. 58). A hammered alloy having " cores " does 
not, as a rule, show slip-bands very distinctly, because 


the shaded markings tend to mask them, and in an alloy 
consisting of two constituents, one harder than the 
other, they may not occur at all. They are seen best 
in specimens of worked bronze or brass that have been 
thoroughly annealed before the work. When sufficiently 
cold-worked to cause a confused structure, then no 
slip-bands will be visible. 

Fig. 58. — ^Mic restructure of Twisted Brass showing Slip- bands. 

It has been mentioned in a previous chapter that 
the working of most metals and alloys in the cold state 
hardens them to such an extent as to render further 
manipulation impossible without cracking. It is, there- 
fore, necessary to anneal them in order to bring the metal 
back to its original state of softness. Annealing is the 
process of heating a metal or alloy for a certain length 


of time to a temperature below its melting point, in order 
to soften it, or to render it perfectly homogeneous. If 
the temperature is a high one, approaching the melting 
point, the time need only be short, but the time becomes 
longer as the temperature is lowered. The rate of cooling 
after annealing is not material. 

In the forming or " raising " of a vessel from a sheet 
of metal several annealings are required ; in fact, the 
number of annealings depends upon the amount of " work " 
to be done. 

We have noticed that annealing of alloys causes 
equilibrium to be attained by diffusion of soluble metals, 
but in worked specimens of metals or alloys in the form 
of solid solutions it also brings about another change. 
A recrystallisation occurs, in spite of the fact that fusion 
has not taken place. The whole mass rearranges itself 
internally, and a crystalline system quite different from 
the original cast one is formed. The boundaries of the 
latter are very irregular and jagged, and the grains 
exhibit much interpenetration, besides an obvious elonga- 
tion in the direction at right angles to the cooling surfaces. 
In a solid solution " cores " would also be present. The 
boundaries of the new or " secondary " grains, that are 
induced by the " work " and the subsequent annealing, 
are, on the contrary, much more regular in shape : the 
boundaries take the form of straight lines, and the 
grains themselves are much more regular and are very 
angular. A photomicrograph of hammered, annealed 
brass (copper 70 per cent., zinc 30 per cent.) is given in 
Fig. 59. There is also another peculiarity which dis- 
tinguishes secondary grains ; it is known as twinning. 
We need not enter into a full explanation of this char- 
acteristic, but it will suffice to say that it is primarily 
due to the original interpenetration of the cast or primi- 


tive grains and to pieces of one grain being separated 
and embedded in another by the " work." These broken 
fragments are compelled to crystallise with the grain in 
which they are embedded in an arrangement different 
from their own, and they take the form, on the etched 
surface, of parallel bands extending wholly or partly 
across the surface of the grains. These parallel twin 

Fig. 59. — Worked Brass annealed at 600^ for half an hour. 

markings ma}^ occur in cast metals, being due to internal 
stresses brought about by unequal contraction during 
solidification, but in such cases they are present in very 
small numbers. 

The secondary type of crystal grains with twin markings 
have been found to occur in copper produced by electro- 
lytic processes, and the author has also found it in 


fragments of precipitated copper from the surface of a 
bronze mirror, an interesting subject, which will be dealt 
with later, but these occurrences are of minor importance, 
and do not affect the question we are now about to con- 
sider — viz., the uses of microscopic investigations of 
structure for the detection of methods of manufacture 
of antique metal objects. 

The secondary grains possess a property peculiar to 
themselves. With continued heating or a raising of the 
temperature, they grow in size, there being no limit, 
except that of the mass itself, to the dimensions that a 
grain may attain, but they preserve their straight bound- 
aries and angular forms. The primitive grains in a cast 
metal or alloy do not possess this characteristic, except 
in a very small degree, caused, no doubt, by stresses 
existing within the mass, owing to differences in the rate 
of cooling of different parts. A point of some interest 
is that this property of growth which the crystal grains 
of a worked metal possess, is permanent : it does not 
lapse. The author has proved by experiment that the 
grains in such a sample will continue their growth if 
annealed in spite of the fact that the growth was first 
initiated perhaps five or seven thousand years ago. A 
worked metal is in a strained condition : these strains 
are relieved by the application of heat, and the result is 
the new structure of secondary crystal grains. It would 
not be unreasonable to suppose that ageing alone might 
relieve these strains, but from specimens examined it is 
possible to say that after more than 2,000 years, the 
internal strains still exist, as is demonstrated by the fact 
that recrystallisation and crystal growth ensues when 
the antique metal is annealed. 

A photomicrograph of the same sample of brass as 
that of Fig. 59 is given in Fig. 60, which was taken after 


further annealing at a temperature approaching the 
melting point. 

Globules of lead or cuprous oxide contained in alloys 
flattened by hammering are caused to resume a globular 
form by annealing, if the temperature is sufficiently 

As was explained in the case of cast alloys, all " core " 
markings disappear during the annealing, because the 

" ^ ,%♦«" i -^ .f. ■ iLM 

Fig. 60. — Microstructure of Annealed Brass after further annealing to 
800^ for half an hour. 

metals present as impurities or constituents (to which 
the '" cores " are due), diffuse uniformly through the 

- If such an alloy is heated and hammered, while hot, 
the recrystallisation proceeds simultaneously and the 
effects are similar, though the " core " markings will 


not, as a rule, be entirely eliminated unless the heating 
is sufficiently prolonged. 

With alloys having a microstructure comprising crystal- 
lites in a matrix of some kind, as, for instance, those of 
copper and silver, the case is somewhat different. Ham- 
mering or other cold working causes a breaking up, 
flattening, and distortion of the different structural 
phases, as explained with respect to pure metals and 
solid solutions, but the subsequent annealing, although 
the process of crystalline re-adjustment that ensues must 
be analagous, does not bring about similar visible effects 
in the microstructure. After the annealing, the crystal- 
lites do not reappear on the etched surface in their original 
branched form, but as rounded, isolated masses surrounded 
by the eutectic matrix, the two components of which 
are much more rounded and indistinct than they were 
in the original cast state, provided, of course, that the 
temperature of annealing is not higher than the melting 
point of the eutectic, which would produce incipient 

Crystallites are essentially indications of solidification 
from the liquid state ; if once distorted or broken uf) 
by " work," they can never be made to reappear by 
annealing. Fusion alone would produce fresh ones. 

The reader will have gathered from what precedes, 
that it is generally possible to ascertain, from the micro- 
structure of specimens of alloys here dealt with, the 
original method of manufacture. Some may have been 
cast ; others may have been hammered from a disc of 
metal. In any antique object of metal or alloy made 
by simple casting there will usually be crystallites in the 
microstructure : annealing cannot destroy them, although 
by causing diffusion it may remove the evidence for 
their presence by the disappearance of the core markings. 


A cast metal composed of grains, not having " core '* 
markings, will show irregular grains possessing jagged 
and interpenetrating boundaries, and the trained eye 
readily distinguishes them from grains of the " secondary '^ 

A cast specimen afterwards hammered to shape when 
cold, without any annealing, will show a confused struc- 
ture flattened and distorted, any cores present being 
crushed and lengthened. A similar specimen annealed 
subsequently to the working will possess quite a different 
" secondary " type of structure, as previously explained. 

There now remains to be considered the microstructure 
of a metal or solid solution, say a bronze containing 
5 per cent, of tin, which has been worked and annealed 
several times, but left finally in the state produced by 
hammering the annealed structure. The regular angular 
crystal grains produced by annealing, when hammered 
are flattened and distorted, as are cast grains : they 
also show flow lines traversing each grain that has suffered 
distortion (see Fig. 58). 

The work of the author has shown that all the struc- 
tural characteristics of cast, worked, or annealed speci- 
mens previously worked or not, as already described, 
are permanent ones — that is to say, they are just as 
visible to-day in antique specimens as they were when 
freshly prepared thousands of years ago. 

The usual method of etching specimens for micro- 
scopic analysis is by immersion in a reagent having a 
slightly corrosive action on the surface, such as dilute 
acid, dilute ammonia, etc. Etching of modern specimens 
is not difficult, requiring only a certain amount of practice 
in judging when the attack has gone far enough and 
promptly stopping further action by washing. If the 
etching be carried too far, there is no alternative to 


repolishing and etching again. Antique metals con- 
taining copper, however, are often rather more difficult 
to etch, and require much closer watching during the 
immersion. This is chiefly due to the fact that they 
invariably contain oxides and salts of the metal either 
on their outward uncleaned surfaces or penetrating into 
the metal itself. These oxides and salts are much more 
readily acted upon by the etching medium : they quickly 
go into solution, and as a consequence the polished 
metallic surface may re-precipitate the copper from the 
solution, so that it forms a skin on the surface. These 
difficulties are best overcome by removing as much as 
possible of the oxidised crust from the surfaces of the 
specimen not required to be etched, or by covering them 
with a layer of wax. After that the etching should be 
carefully watched and the surface constantly examined : 
the time required is often not longer than one minute. 
As a rule, the reagents should be more diluted than those 
used for ordinary use with modern alloys. 

It is as well during etching occasionally to move the 
specimen about in the liquid to remove any bubbles of 
gas that may have formed on the surface, thus hindering 
the attack. After the final washing, drying should be 
carried out as quickly as possible. This is more neces- 
sary with antique metals than modern ones, as the 
crevices in the former are likely to hold salts which may 
be brought to the surface by prolonged action of moisture. 
In most cases a soft napless rag may be lightly wiped 
over the polished face, or the specimen may be rinsed 
in ether. 

A good way of viewing " cores " in solid solutions is to 
throw the microscope objective slightly out of focus, 
when the parts of the structure standing in relief are 
emphasised, because in some instances the etching medium 


may not produce " core " markings sufficiently dark in 
tint to be clearly visible except to the expert. 

Another method of developing the structure on micro 
sections is the heat-tinting process. This consists of 
gradually heating the specimen in air until slight oxida- 
tion films form on the surface, but with antique metals 
it gives very poor results. 

The beginner is advised to make a point of repeating 
the polishing, etching, and examination of a specimen, 
because occasionally freak markings occur on the surface 
due to unequal action of the etching reagent, to the 
crystallisation of salts (imperfectly removed by the 
washing), or to the deposition of films of metallic copper 
upon the bright surface. 

The prepared surface should be perfectly clean and free 
from grease. It is useful to rinse in benzene or ether 
before submerging in the etching fluid. 

The following reagents are most suitable for the 
different kinds of antique metals and alloys : — 

Copper and Bronze. Ammonia. 

Ammonium persulphate. 

Dilute nitric acid. 
Gold. Aqua regia. 

Silver and Electrum. Nitric acid. 
Iron. Picric acid. 

Dilute nitric acid. 

After a little practice the preparation of a metal section 
for microscopic examination becomes an easy matter. 
The chief points are : — 

1. The polished surface must be quite flat, especially 
if high powers are to be used. 

2. Scratches made by the file must be removed by 
emery paper, each grade of which is applied in a direction 


at right angles to the previous one, so that it is easy to 
see that marks made by the previous paper are removed. 

3. Washing to remove all grit between each stage of 
the grinding and polishing. 

4. Careful watching during etching to prevent it going 
too far. Directly the surface shows signs of losing its 
metallic brightness, it should be removed and 

For further details of preparation of specimens, the 
reader should refer to the books devoted to the micro- 
scopical study of metals. For polishing, the author has 
used a Swiss nail powder known under the name of 
" Diamantine " with satisfactory results. This is not 
the expensive white powder of the same name usually 
employed by metallographers. The finest jeweller's 
rouge also gives good results. All fine emery papers and 
polishing cloths should be quite free from gritty particles. 
Selvyt cloth suits admirably for polishing. A micro- 
scopic examination of the polished surface should always 
be made before it is etched, as much useful information 
can often be obtained in this way. Variations in hardness 
of the different phases comprising the microstructure 
cause some to be more worn away by the polishing than 
others that are harder, and thus the latter stand out 
on the polished surface in slight relief. Again, certain 
structural characteristics can best be observed before 
etching, such, for instance, as lead in copper or bronze, 
appearing dark against the body of the salmon-coloured 
or yellow surrounding metal ; and cuprous oxide in 
copper, the former appearing blue against the salmon- 
coloured copper. In some cases the boundaries of the 
crystal grains, and in others flow lines due to hammering, 
more especially in antique specimens, may be clearly 
observed. Further, it may be said that etching would 


in some instances tend to mask these effects by the 
production of others of more noticeable character. 

As the copper articles of the earliest Egyptian periods 
contain impurities, they must be regarded as alloys. 
For instance, in the analysis of the copper strip (p. 68) 
we find that the chief impurity is arsenic, and, therefore, 
we may regard the metal as an alloy of copper and 
arsenic. The other impurities which are present in 
much smaller amounts, do not disturb the general arrange- 
ment of the microstructure. The following is a list of 
the antique alloys with which we have to deal : — 

Copper with a little arsenic as main impurity, 

generally also with iron. 
Copper with tin less than 8 per cent, (bronze). 
Copper with tin between 8 and 16 per cent, (bronze). 
Copper with zinc less than 30 per cent, (brass). 
Gold with silver. 
Gold with copper. 

All the foregoing alloys, in the mixtures that are of 
practical importance and of which antique specimens 
exist, form solid solutions. 

Copper and silver together form solid solutions, but they 
also form an eutectic mixture. Lead forms no solid solu- 
tions with metals that come under our consideration. 

It has already been stated that the structural and 
physical effects of a long annealing at a low temperature 
are similar to those produced by a higher temperature 
applied for a shorter time : this rule has been considered 
so true by many metallurgists that it has been considered 
that annealing effects could be brought about in a metal 
even at atmospheric temperatures, provided a sufficiently 
long period of time were allowed. The author's investi- 
gations upon antique Egyptian metals have shown, 



however, that if such a process does take place it is 
infinitely slow, and is quite imperceptible after about 
5,000 years. For all practical purposes it may be said 
that a more or less elevated temperature is required to 
produce the structural alterations due to annealing — 
viz., diffusion in a heterogeneous solid solution — and 
recrystallisation and crystal growth in a worked metal 
or alloy. 

An antique specimen demonstrating the truth of this 
is a copper dagger which is over 5,000 years old, having 
been made during the ist Dynasty. It has been authori- 
tatively assigned to this period by the Egyptian archaeolo- 
gical authorities, and is considered by the author to have 
been originally contained in a sheath of the same metal, 
but the latter, being very thin, had entirely oxidised 
before it was discovered. 

The following is the analysis of the metal, omitting 
oxygen :— 


•39 per cent 

Lead, . . . . , 


Iron, .... 


Bismuth, tin, and nickel, 


Copper (by difference), . 


The comparative purity of the metal is worthy of 
remark, particularly injurious impurities, such as lead 
and bismuth, being entirely absent. A similar absence 
of these impurities has been observed by the author in 
most other antique copper implements intended for 
mechanical purposes. 

The dagger had apparently been made by first casting 
the metal roughly to shape, and then finishing by ham- 
mering when cold, but as some parts of the section near 
the edges showed a little twinning, perhaps a slight 


amount of hot work had also been done on the object. 
That it had never been systematically annealed, and 
that no appreciable diffusion had occurred during its 
lifetime was abundantly clear. On etching the section, 
the original core markings came out with distinctness, as 
shown in Fig. 61. 

Close examination of the etched section showed that 
recrystallisation had taken place in a somewhat peculiar 
manner ; there were indications that the actual re- 
crystallisation had only affected one part of the structure 
— the arsenic -rich areas — which had taken the form of 
attenuated crystal grains 
following the meanders 
of this particular phase, 
thus leaving the other 
parts (copper-rich) in the 
form of islands of vary- 
ing sizes. This can be 
seen at a higher magnifi- 
cation in Fig. 62. 

It may be pointed out 
that the metal of the 
dagger in its original 
cast state would not 
show these clear crystal 
boundaries. There is a possibility, however, that they 
were induced by the very slight amount of hot 
work which appears to have been done on the dagger. 
The author, however, rejects this idea, because, near 
the edges of the specimen, as stated, the crystal grains 
bear no resemblance to the type produced on such alloys 
by hot work or by annealing cold- worked samples, but 
are more like the primitive " cast " type of grain. More- 
over, hot work or annealing would have produced 

Fig. 61. — Microstructure of Copper 
Dagger showing Cores. 


recrystallisation in the copper-rich islands. He prefers 
not to venture any opinion as to whether the recrystal- 
Hsation was brought about in rehef of the internal stresses 
set up by the cold hammering, or whether it was induced 
either by the highly crystalline properties of arsenic or 
by the presence of the cuprous oxide globules. 

Annealing the metal produced the results that would 
be expected in a modern sample of worked copper of 
the same composition, as shown in Fig. 63. The grains 
assumed a regular form, the oxide migrated to the 
granular boundaries, and the " cores " disappeared. 

Fig. 62. — Microstructure of Copper 
Dagger showing Cores. 

Fig. 63. — Copper Dagger after 

This micrograph was produced by etching with chromic 
acid, and afterwards slightly polishing ; but, of course, 
before the latter was done, it was well observed that 
*' cores " were absent. The polishing has obliterated 
the boundaries here and there. 

Another old sample which clearly demonstrates the 
persistence of the cast " cored " structure in copper is 
the strip of the xiith Dynasty described in Chapter II. 
(p. 65). 


This strip was hammered to shape from a cast rod 
whilst hot, which was the ancient Egyptian's method 
of preventing cracking whilst working the metal, and 
at the same time ensuring softness. The heating was not, 
however, prolonged, and cannot be considered as 
annealing. This is apparent from the photomicrograph 
(Fig. 64), which clearly shows the large cores, due to 
arsenic, flattened out as they were by the hammering. 
That the metal was worked hot is shown by the slight 
amount of fine recrystallisation which may be detected 

Fig. 64. — Microstructure of Copper 
Strip, xiith Dynasty. 

Fig. 65. — Copper Strip (Fig. 64) 
annealed, x 90 diam. 

in the light parts of the structure. In order to show how 
annealing would have removed these cores, the author 
heated a sample, and Fig. 65 shows the subsequent 
structure. The recrystallisation is now apparent over 
the whole surface, and the " dark " cores have been 
dissipated. The long streaks traversing the photograph 
are strings of cuprous oxide. 

In the case of the copper razor (Fig. 29), it is 


interesting to note that probably some hot work was done 
on the metal, because there is some secondary crystal- 
lisation in places. Fig. 66 shows the original structure, 
and Fig. 67 the structure after annealing by the author. 

Fig. 66. 

-Microstructure of Copper 
Razor (Fig. 29). 

Fig. 67. — Microstructure of Copper 
Razor (Figs. 29 and 66) annealed. 

The copper knife illustrated in Fig. 68 also showed 
pronounced core marking (Fig. 69), and when a piece of 
the metal was annealed the cores disappeared and crystal 
growth set in (Fig. 70). 

Fig. 68. — Copper Knife. 

The next three photomicrographs are from an adze 
or axe blade, described in the previous chapter (Fig. 48). 
Fig. 71 shows the original cored structure ; Fig. 72 shows 


Fig. 69. — Microstructure of Copper 
Knife. X 75 diam. 

Fig. 70.— Copper Knife (Fig. 69) after 
annealing. X 75 diaiu. 

Fig. 71. — Microstructure of 
Axe-head (Fig. 48). 

Fig. 72. — Microstructure of Axe- 


how the cores were flattened out near the cutting edge 
which had been hammered out cold, whilst Fig. 73 shows 
the homogeneous secondary microstructure which was 
produced by annealing in the author's laboratory. 

As a specimen of cores in an antique bronze, the 
photograph given in Fig. 74 is included. This is taken 
from a section of metal from the Roman or Byzantine 
pot shown in Fig. 30, and described in Chapter II. The 
photograph shows cores and spots of lead, and the shape 
of these prove that no work has been done on the metal. 

Fig. 73. — Same as Fig. 72, after 

Fig. 74. — Microstructure showing Cores and. 
Lead Spots in Bronze Pot (Fig, 30). 

Cores in the metal of a gold ring are shown in Fig. 75. 

The author's experience is that in almost every sample 
of antique copper and many bronzes " cores " are present, 
and this, besides showing that systematic annealing had 
not been applied, also demonstrates the permanence of 
the cast " cored " type of microstructure. If any diffusion 
has taken place during the long period of time that has 
elapsed since the articles were made it is not apparent. 


Doubt may be expressed in some quarters that the dark 
striations in some of the photomicrographs are really 
" core " markings. That they are is amply indicated 
by the fact that they invariably disappear after annealing, 
that they are always flattened in a direction parallel to 
the hammered sides, and that they follow more or less 
the undulations of the surface. 

It is possible to say that many of the articles were 
specially cast roughly to shape and not made by shaping 

Fig. 75. — Microstructure of Gold Ring showing Core Structure. 

a piece of metal cut from a large mass. This is deduced 
from the fact that the cores are proportionate in size 
to the section of the article — that is to say, speaking 
generally, in a large mass of metal the cores would be 
large in area, and thus if a small piece were cut off to 
make a certain object, it could be detected by the cores 
being out of proportion to the mass of the object itself. 
The rule cannot be considered an absolute one, but, 
seeing that the methods of manufacture would be general 


ones, it is useful as a guide when endeavouring to ascer- 
tain by investigation of the microstructure how any 
particular article was made. 

It may be added that the '' cores " in an etched speci- 
men of unannealed hammered alloy become more con- 
spicuous and more defined, as a rule, than they were 
when the metal was in its previous cast state, because 
by flattening and compressing them they are rendered 
denser and the shading off towards the edges is thus 
made less gradual. 

The permanence of the crushing effects of cold work 
done upon a metal or metallic solid solution possessing 
the recrystallised microstructure induced by an annealing 
after previous " work " has also been proved. 

A small rod of brass (Roman), which had been twisted 
on its own axis when cold, showed this feature very 
well. In this case the distortion of the crystal grains 
was caused by twisting instead of hammering, but the 
effects upon the microstructure caused by the two pro- 
cesses were similar. 

Fig. 76 is a photomicrograph of a section of this rod 
taken near the edge at a magnification of 90 diameters. 
Many of the grains will be seen to be marked with parallel 
flow lines caused by the slipping of different parts of 
a grain over others in order that the grain might 
accommodate itself to the new form imposed upon it 
by the work. The darker patches are due to corrosion. 
The specimen is about 2,000 years old, and, therefore, 
the strained type of microstructure appears to be quite 
permanent. A piece of gilt copper strip of earlier date 
also demonstrates this, as shown in the photomicrograph 
given in Fig. 77, taken at a magnification of 100 diameters. 
Lamellae due to hammering after annealing are clearly 


Because annealing, as a process of manufacture, was 
not applied, so far as investigations teach us, prior to 
Roman times, there are no specimens that would demon- 
strate the permanency of the distorted, or, to borrow a 
mineralogical term, the " cataclystic " structure, of 
greater age than about 2,000 years, but there is no doubt 
that if such specimens of metals first annealed and then 
worked cold do come to hand, they will show that this 
type of microstructure is as permanent at atmospheric tem- 
peratures as the " cored " structure previously dealt with. 

Fig. 76. — Microstructure of Twisted 
Brass. X 90 diam. 

Fig. 77. — -Microstructure of Gilt 
Copper Strip, x 100 diam. 

In the structures of some of the early specimens of 
copper and bronze articles (as, for instance, the copper 
razor, Figs. 29 and 66), there is found a shght amount 
of recrystallisation due to a little hot work having been 
applied, and this enables us to assert that this effect 
of annealing upon the microstructure of metals and 
alloys has not been caused at atmospheric temperatures. 
In all the specimens examined, the new or secondary 


crystal grains were of a fine order, being only visible 
under a moderately high magnification. It has been 
stated already that proper annealing of a worked metal 
or alloys causes growth of the new crystal grains, and 
that such growth is proportionate to the temperature 
used and the period for which it is applied. If, there- 
fore, the structural changes of annealing took place at 
atmospheric temperatures, it would be reasonable to 
suppose that the enormous age of some of the antique 
examples would have been sufficient to promote crystal 

Fig. 78. — Rivet showing Fine 
Crystals. X 90 diam. 

Fig. 79. — Microstructure of Silver 
Bead, x 90 diam. 

growth until it became coarse. If any such growth does 
take place at normal temperatures, its rate must be 
infinitely slow, because the secondary crystal grains of 
a copper rivet, thousands of years old, are still so small 
to-day as to require a magnification of 90 diameters to 
resolve them, as shown in Fig. 78. 

As an example of a different kind of alloy, silver-coj^per 
may be taken. The examination of silver beads, made 


by the shaping of half -spheres over a suitable core, 
and then joining these halves together by a process 
similar to " wiping," shows that the structure is the same 
as it must have been at the time of its manufacture. 
The structure of such a bead at a magnification of 90 
diameters is shown in Fig. 79. The small light-coloured 
islands of eutectic matrix are still elongated and flattened 
in a parallel formation in the direction at right angles 
to that in which the hammering was done. We can tell 
that annealing was not applied, because it would have 
caused the copper-rich parts to ball up and the matrix 
to appear on the microsection as more or less circular 
films around the dark masses. The period to which this 
bead can be assigned is doubtful, but it is probably of 
Roman origin. 

The author has always found the original cast crystal- 
lites in antique specimens of cast silver-copper alloys 
in situ, surrounded by the well-known matrix, just as 
they were when formed during solidification, no structural 
changes having transpired during the lapse of time, as, 
for instance, in the case of the head of a statuette of the 
god Osiris, made of silver-copper alloy (see Fig. 80). 
The very dark portions in this photograph are due to 
corrosion, and will be dealt with later. 

Whatever changes in microstructure take place as 
a result of ageing, it is clear that, in the cases of the 
alloys dealt with, these effects must be extremely small. 
It has been shown that diffusion in solid solutions, re- 
crystallisation, and crystal growth do not take place at 
atmospheric temperatures over periods reaching to five 
thousand years, at least not to such an extent as to be 
noticeable under the microscope. 

It has already been explained that it is generally 
possible to say whether an article was produced by 


raising or by simple casting, and it has been shown that 
raising of copper and bronze, being dependent upon 
annealing, was of comparatively late introduction, 
probably Roman. The bronze ladle described in Chapter 
II. (Fig. 31) may be taken as a support of this contention. 
The metallographical evidence that this vessel was made 
by casting is given in Fig. 81, which is a photomicro- 
graph at a magnification of 100 diameters, showing that 
the original crystallites formed during solidification 
when cast, are still present. 

80. — Microstructure of Silver 
Copper Statuette. 

Fig. 81. — -Microstructure of Bronze 
Ladle (Fig. 31). X 100 diam. 

The two Roman vases described on pp. 49 and 69, 
although of an external form that could have been 
produced by raising, were actually cast. Another 
specimen showing the same feature is the Roman or 
Byzantine pot, shown in Fig. 30, with spout and handle, 
which also was cast in one piece. Fig. 74 shows the 
cast cored structure taken at the point where the handle 
joins the body. Further notes on this vessel will be 


found on p. 173. The ornamentation of the spout, 
followmg the form of a hon's head, was, however, not 
done in the moulding, but was carved by a chisel or 
similar tool after casting. This is indicated by the 
photomicrograph (Fig. 82), which was taken from a 
longitudinal section of the spout. Traces of " cores " 
may be seen in the neighbouring cast crystal grains, 
whilst near the edge, which is that of the outer surface 
of the spout, flow lines caused by the chiselhng are clearly 





Fig. 82. — Microstructure of Ornamented 
Pot showing Flowlines. 

Fig. 83. — Roman Bronze Jar. 

seen. The edges of the inner surface showed no such 
flow markings, because no work had been done on 
that surface. 

Microscopic examinations have proved that even such 
simple articles as bronze mirrors, knives, arrow tips, chisels, 
and plain ring bracelets, were, until the period of the 
Roman occupation of Egypt, made by casting in moulds. 


The Roman vessel (Fig. 83) bore strong traces in its 
microstructure of having been made by raising. Etching 
brought out secondary crystalhsation of a fine type, and 
the form of the vessel itself rather tended to indicate 
" raising " as the method of manufacture. The presence 
of flow lines in the crystal grains near the edge showed 
that at least a final anneaUng was not applied, but a 
very careful re-etching produced " cores." The latter 
could not possibly have been in existence to-day had 
the vessel been hammered from a disc of metal, because 
the several annealings, which would have been absolutely 
necessary to prevent cracking during manufacture, would 
have made the metal homogeneous. It would seem, 
therefore, that the pot was at least cast roughly to shape 
and finished off by hammering. The flow lines in the 
grains may be a result of this, or they may possibly be 
due to grinding and polishing of the surface. 

The microscope has also shown that, contrary to 
statements in various museum catalogues, the first 
Egyptians knew nothing of brazing or welding copper 
or bronze. Had such processes been known, they would 
certainly have been in universal use by the date of the 
Roman invasion. The general evidence in support of 
this contention has been discussed in a previous chapter ; 
in this one we are only concerned with that given by 
microscopic examination. 

The Roman pot mentioned in Chapter II. (Fig. 38) 
had been repaired during manufacture, two large holes 
having been filled up in the side. The method used has 
been described, but the photomicrograph (Fig. 84) shows 
a section through the repair. 

The presence of the crystallites indicates that the added 
metal was molten ; the crystallites are perfect in form, 
showing that no work was done on the metal after 


casting. It was not, therefore, a piece of sheet metal 
put in as a patch. 

Fig. 85 gives a photomicrograph of the joint between 
the pot itself and the new metal, unetched. It shows 
the lead globules ; those on one side, that of the original 
vessel, are much larger than on the other side, which is 
the beginning of metal put in for the repair. The latter 
would solidify at a more rapid rate than the large mass 
comprising the pot did before it, thus preventing the 
lead running up into larger balls. From the structural 

Fig. 84. — Microstructure of Repaired 
Portion of Roman Pot (Fig. 38). 

Fig. 85. — Microstructure of Joint in 
Repaired Pot. Unetched. 

similarities of the two metals, it is probable that the 
repair was done at the time of manufacture. There 
was no trace whatever of brazing. 

If the repair had been made by affixing a bronze plate 
and brazing it into position, as it would have been if 
brazing had been in general use, it would readily have 
been detected. 



Occasionally microscopic examination indicates some- 
thing of special interest in the metal used for a particular 
antique object. For instance, a bronze statuette was 
found to have been cast from scrap metal. The photo- 
micrograph (Fig. 86) shows two small isolated fragments 
embedded in the bronze. These are pieces of copper, 
being easily distinguished as such by the appearance and 
colour on the etched surface. The twin markings, which 
can be seen running across one grain, indicate that they 

Fig. 86. — Microstructure of Bronze showing Inclusions of Unfused 

originally formed part of a piece of previously worked 
copper, perhaps an old tool, before being used in the 
bronze. They were not fused when the bronze was melted. 
The corrosion of metals and alloys is a subject to 
which metallurgists of to-day are giving much attention. 
In modern experiments on corrosion the process is 
frequently hastened by electrolytic or other means, in 
order to obtain results within a reasonable time. We 
may learn something of its effects and progress from a 


study of antique specimens, many of which, notwith- 
standing their great age, have withstood corrosion in a 
remarkable manner. 

Some of the early bronzes in the state in which they 
are found, covered with a crusted mass of carbonates 
and oxy chlorides, look most unpromising, and it is often 
a cause of surprise how, after careful cleaning, an antique 
object is found to be almost intact with all its original 
markings and inscriptions, almost as plain to the eye 
to-day as they were when first put on. 

It is generally considered that all corrosion is electro- 
chemical in character, electro-couples being set up 
between the metal and its impurities, or between the 
different constituents forming an alloy. The presence 
of a liquid (often only moisture) is necessary to act as 
an electrolyte. This explains something of the selective 
nature of corrosion in metallic substances, but beyond 
asking the reader to bear the fact in mind, it will not be 
necessary to attempt any further explanation from this 

Metallic corrosion is selective and intergranular in 
its action, the second characteristic being really an 
effect of the first. It is generally known that all metals 
are not attacked to the same extent by the same cor- 
rosive elements. In an alloy the relative solubilities 
are to a great extent retained by the individual con- 
stituent metals, providing they do not form chemical 
compounds with each other. Thus, in a cast copper- 
nickel alloy the copper -rich parts of the structure are 
attacked more readily by an acid than the parts rich 
in nickel, or, to quote a case where complete mutual 
solid solubihty does not occur, in copper-silver alloys 
the copper -rich parts of the structure are attacked more 
readily than those parts that are rich in silver. 


Therefore, in a metal, containing little impurity, 
which is held in the intergranular boundaries, and which 
may be in the form of element, intermetallic compound, 
or oxide, corrosion proceeds more rapidly at these 
boundaries. This is one of the reasons why the etching 
of the surface of a piece of metal reveals the boundaries 
of the grains, and is a consequence of the electro-chemical 
nature of corrosion. 

The copper dagger of the ist Dynasty (previously 
described on p. 146) shows us something of the selective 
nature of corrosion. Owing to the entire oxidation of 
the sheath in which the dagger was originally contained, 
there was a crust of green copper carbonate, etc., about 
J inch thick, surrounding the metal core of the dagger 
itself, which was in a surprisingly good state of preserva- 
tion. In the space between the dagger and its sheath, 
on each side, the corrosion had been able to proceed in 
a more uniform and undisturbed manner than generally 
happened with these old metal articles, and it was 
possible, after removing the crust, to distinguish on the 
surface of the dagger the forms of crystallites in sunk 
relief due to their having corroded more rapidly than 
their arsenic-rich boundaries. The specimen was, there- 
fore, at once recognised as being still in its original 
" cast-cored " state, and the interesting feature was 
photographed. Fig. 87 is a micrograph of the external 
surface ; the light markings, the shapes of which, though 
somewhat irregular, are readily identified with crystallite 
formation, are the depressions left by the corroded 
copper-rich crystallites, but they were allowed to 
remain filled up with green cupric carbonate in 
order to afford some contrast for photographic 

The forms of the crystallites could also be seen in relief 


upon the pieces of copper carbonate crust removed from 
the specimen. 

This selective oxidation was also detected in the in- 
terior of the metal. Near the edges of the section micro- 
scopic examination showed that the crystallites had 
entirely corroded, though their contours were not so 
w^ell defined as the external ones. Fig. 88 is a section, 
the dark parts of which are the corroded crystallites. 

In this case the chief impurity held in a state of solid 
solution was arsenic, and the parts of the microstructure 


87.— View of Surface of Copper 
Dagger, showing Selective Cor- 
rosion. Light parts are depres- 
sions left by corroded crystallites, 
filled with cupric carbonate. 
Magnified 30 diameters. 

-Section showing Internal 
Selective Corrosion near Surface. 
Dark parts are corroded copper- 
rich crystallites. Slightly etched. 
10 per cent, ammonia persul- 
phate. Magnified 50 diameters. 

rich in this element were less readily attacked by the 
corrosive elements than the copper-rich parts. 

Internal corrosion of crystallites is also shown in the 
photomicrograph of a copper graver (Fig. 89), the dark 
parts being the corroded crystallites. 

Selective corrosion is very well shown by antique 
copper-silver alloys. The outer surfaces of copper-rich 


antique objects made of alloys of these two metals, the 
natural colour of which is pale yellow, generally appear 
as white as silver when cleaned, and the true yellow 
colour is only revealed by filing. This is due to the 
removal of all the copper near the surface by corrosion. 
Fig. 80 shows how this takes place ; it is a photomicro- 
graph taken from the head of a statuette representing 
the god Osiris, made of an alloy of silver and copper 
containing gold. The section was not etched, but the 
corroded copper-rich primary crystallites appear black, 

Fig. 89. — Microstructure of Copper Graver showing Corrosion. 

due to the removal of the copper by solution and diffusion 
during corrosion. 

Incidentally, this figure shows another feature that 
has been dealt with in a previous page in connection 
with the polishing of specimens for examination. In 
the portion of the photograph where the corrosion has 
not penetrated, the pink-tinted copper-rich crystallites 
appear, but this is not due so much to the fact that they 
differ in colour from the more yellow matrix, but because 


the latter, being silver-rich, is much the softer of the 
two phases, and is, therefore, more worn away by the 
polishing, leaving the crystallites in slight relief. 

Another specimen of a similar alloy showing selective 
oxidation is that of a piece of Coptic silver of poor quality. 
The microstructure, unetched, is given in Fig. 90, the 
corroded copper-rich crystallites near the surface ap- 
pearing black, as in the previous specimen. 

In order to show how a similar action occurs in alloys 

Fig. 90. — ^Microstructure of Coptic Silver 

showing Corrosion. (Unetched. 

X 80 diam.) 

Fig. 91. — ^Microstructure of 
Silver-rich Allov. 

containing much silver and only a little copper, in which, 
as explained before, the primary crystallites are silver- 
rich, a photomicrograph (Fig. 91) is given of a section, 
unetched, of a small statuette of a god, the view being 
taken near the edge. In this case the primary crystallites 
are a solid solution of silver with gold, and most of the 
copper is held in the eutectic matrix. Thus we find the 


oxidation has taken place in the latter phase of the micro- 
structure. " The dark mottled patches in the photo- 
micrograph are the parts from which the copper has been 
removed by corrosion near the surface of the specimen. 

The corrosion of the copper-rich portions of the micro- 
structure may proceed towards the interior of a specimen 
to a considerable distance ; it has been found in some 
silver-copper alloys to have reached a depth of a quarter 
of an inch, leaving the surrounding silver-rich parts quite 

Fig. 92. — Microstructure of Copper Nail showing Corrosion. 

intact and perfectly metallic. When a section is polished, 
this feature causes the outer edge round the unetched 
section, when viewed by the eye, to display a dull greyish 
appearance, whilst the inner, uncorroded metal of the 
core is bright and metallic. Etching, however, rather 
tends to reverse the visible effects, the inner portion, 
being still coppery, becomes dark through attack by the 
reagent, whilst the outer corroded ring, which contains 
very little copper, is not attacked, and so appears bright 


and metallic in contrast with the etched interior. This 
may lead a beginner to think that corrosion had taken 
place internally, but the microscope quickly reveals 
the solid nature of the inner metal and the porous state 
of the outer ring or shell. 

In the case of an antique copper or bronze specimen, 
which was heated soon after manufacture, and thus 
possessed a homogeneous structure of crystal grains 
without cores of any kind, corrosion has proceeded, not 

Fig. 93. — -Microstructure. Axe Head showing Corrosion. 

as a gradual eating away of the surface, layer by layer, 
but by traversing the intergranular . boundaries, thus 
attacking the grains from all sides. Fig. 92 shows this. 
It is a photomicrograph of the structure of an xviiith 
Dynasty copper nail. The crystal grains, which are of 
a large order, are surrounded by dark bands where 
corrosion has proceeded between them, thus showing 
up the limits of the granular boundaries without etching. 
Fig. 93 also shows intergranular corrosion that occurred 
in a copper axe head ; the surface was not etched. 


This intergranular progression also occurs when an 
annealed copper or bronze alloy has been afterwards 
worked and left in the strained state, but in these speci- 
mens it also traverses the new surfaces of parts of grains 
that have been made to slip over other parts of the grains 
of which they previously formed part — that is to say, it 
travels along the dividing planes between the portions 
of a grain that has been distorted or broken up by the 
" work." The visible effects of " work " upon the micro- 
structure of an annealed metal are the flow lines which 

^m ^«%- 


Fig. 94. — Microstructure of Roman Bronze Jar. Un etched (Fig. 83). 

cross the grains and the generally crushed state of the 
crystal boundaries, all of which are brought into view 
by etching the surface. The visibility of these flow lines 
and crystal boundaries in an antique metal without 
etching shows that corrosion has taken place along the 
slip planes as well as the boundaries. The section of a 
Roman jar (Fig. 83) shows the effect very well. The 
photomicrograph (Fig. 94) was taken without etching 


the surface and the many flow Hnes brought into view 
by corrosion alone are unmistakable. 

There are many variable factors affecting the amount 
of corrosion, but the proportion of impurities present 
in the metal and the composition of the latter, if an 
alloy, are two of the most important. As an instance, 
the ancient Egyptian hinge (Fig. 95) may be quoted. 
This was originally fitted to a wooden door by two rivets, 
which were found in situ in their original position. The 
body of the hinge was made of poor metal, it was cast 

Fig. 95. — Egyptian Hinge (Bronze). 

to shape, and contained a good deal of lead, but it was 
not intended to bear the same mechanical treatment as 
the rivets. The ancient metal workers, therefore, made 
the latter of much better material. They had to be 
hammered to shape, and afterwards riveted over at 
the ends. It is not improbable that they were forced 
through the wood by simply being made very hot ; they 
contain practically no lead. 

The body of the hinge was found to be extremely 
brittle : it broke readily with a hammer, but, after 


thousands of years, the rivets are still very tough. The 
two photomicrographs (Figs. 78 and 96) show the differ- 
ences in the microstructure. The rivet possesses a very 
fine, healthy, crystalline structure, but the metal of the 
body is traversed by '' rivers " of corrosion, due no doubt, 
firstly, to impurities, and, secondly, to the fact that the 
metal was left in a cast, unannealed condition, and, 
therefore, in a state less homogeneous than it might have 
been. The quantity of lead present would itself tend to 
make the metal brittle. 

Fig. 96. — ^Microstructiire of Hinge, showing 
Impurities and Corrosion, x 90 diam. 

Fig. 97.— Microstructure of Bronze 
Arrow Tip. x 90 diam. 

The photomicrograph of a bronze arrow tip (Fig. 97) 
also shows the selective action of corrosion, the black 
patches being crystallites entirely oxidised, leaving the 
matrix in bright metallic form. In this case the oxidised 
part of the structure is in excess of the unoxidised part 
(the matrix), and, therefore, the latter, although con- 
tinuous, was too fragile to preserve the external contour 
of the object. Such cases are not of common occurrence. 


The preservation of the detail and fine work upon 
old bronzes is due in a great measure to the selective and 
intergranular nature of corrosion. As the metal surface 
is not attacked layer by layer, as might have been 
supposed, the original form of the object remains largely 
intact, being preserved by the metal unacted upon, 
though, of course, the latter is very brittle, owing to the 
porosity thus produced by the selective nature of the 

The preservation of the external shape is well shown 


Fig. 98. — Microstructure of Roman 
Pot (Bronze). X 100 diam. 

Fig. 99. — Microstructure of Bronze 
Arrow Tip. x 100 diam. 

by two photomicrographs reproduced above. Fig. 98 
is the section (unetched) of a Roman bronze pot, taken at 
right angles to the surface near the edge, with its green 
oxidised layer. 

It shows the clear demarcation between the green 
oxidised crust and the metal (the lighter part). The 
straightness of the metallic edge after some thousands 
of years of corrosion, is worthy of notice. As was ex- 
plained with reference to a previous photomicrograph 


(Fig. 82) of this vessel, the metal itself shows flow lines 
due to " working," which are brought into view by the 
corrosion that has proceeded between the slip planes, of 
which these lines are the indication. 

In Fig. 99 the division between the oxidised crust 
and the metal is even straighter and better defined. 
This is the photomicrograph of a section of a bronze 
arrow tip. Selective corrosion has taken place in the 
metal itself (the light liaK of the photograph), but this 
has not interfered with the general preservation of 
the flat form of the surface, as indicated by the 

The vagaries of corrosion are, however, very per- 
plexing, and there is no doubt that during its course 
alternating processes of oxidation and reduction ensue. 
The metal still remaining as such will precipitate metal 
from solutions of certain soluble salts that may be formed 
around it, and other salts will, in the course of time, 
undergo a change into oxides by a process which may 
perhaps be looked upon as a natural reversion to the 
most stable form. 

Some antique copper and bronze articles have a kind 
of warty appearance. The corrosion seems to have 
occurred chiefly in patches, and when the scabs of patina 
are removed by cleaning, holes are left. The graver 
shown in Fig. 100 is an example. In the photograph 
several holes can be seen on the surface. The cause of 
corrosion occurring in isolated patches in this way must 
lie in the nature of the surrounding material rather than 
in the substance of the metal itself. 

Fig. 89 is a photomicrograph of a section of the metal 
through one of the holes, unetched. It shows how the 
crystallites were corroded well into the mass of the 
metal. For comparison a photomicrograph of a view 


taken towards the interior of the metal is given (Fig. 101). 
In this the structure was developed by etching. 

The nature of the surrounding material in which an 

Fig. 100. — Egyptian Graver. 

article lies in the earth will have a preponderating effect 
upon the nature of the salts that are formed : in some 
cases it will be chiefly carbonate, in others chloride or 

Fig. 101. — •Microstructure of Graver. 

oxy chloride, whilst in others cuprous oxide, but never 
cupric oxide (except in cases where objects have been 


burnt in a fire) will predominate. Under the green car- 
bonate crust generally found on old bronzes, and which 
may be any thickness from a thin skin to a quarter of an 
inch or more, there is often found a very regular layer 
of cuprous oxide, in which the fine details of the object 
appear to be preserved, and consequently the removal 
of this layer means the loss of the detail, but the layer 
may sometimes be removed without damage to the 

A particularly interesting case is the bronze mirror, 
of which a photograph is given in Chapter II., p. 71. 
On the outside of the specimen there was a rather warty 
crust of green salts ; under this a very thin skin of cuprous 
oxide, and under the latter an unevenly distributed layer 
of grey copper and tin oxychlorides. 

A remarkable feature was that the thin film of cuprous 
oxide had preserved a good deal of the polish that had 
originally been applied to the metal surface of the mirror 
when made. In the illustration an attempt has been 
made to reproduce this polish as it reflected the sun's 
rajs. This causes the polished parts to appear white 
in the photograph. The darker patch is a portion of the 
outer green crust which had not been removed. It is 
strange that the polish originally possessed by the bronze 
surface should be preserved in spite of the fact that the 
latter has undergone a gradual conversion to oxide. 
Fragments of pure precipitated copper, bright and 
tough, were found amongst the green crust on this 
mirror, and a description of their microstructure will 
probably be of interest to metallurgists. The fragments 
were very small and fragile ; the largest piece was less 
than J inch square. A photograph of a fragment is given 
in Fig. 102. It will be understood that to prepare a 
polished surface, to etch it, and to mount a specimen 


of this size, was not an easy matter, but a method that 
the author had previously used with very small fragments 
of gold was found to suit admirably. A cartridge case 
was filled with a fusible alloy melting in boiling water, 
and, whilst this was still molten, the copper fragment 
was laid carefully on the surface and held whilst the alloy 
solidified round the edges. This held the copper suffi- 
ciently tight for pohshing, which had to be curtailed 



Fig. 102. — Fragment of Copper 
from Corrosion Product. 

Ficf. 103. — Microstructure of Fragment 
of Copper (Fig. 102). 

somewhat, as such a thin specimen would soon be wholly 
ground away. 

When polishing was completed a steel point was in- 
serted under the edge of the specimen, and the latter 
was lifted away, the embedding alloy not having a 
sufficiently tenacious hold to prevent this. Afterwards, 
the etching and washing were carried out in the usual 



way and the specimen mounted by means of plasticine 
upon a glass slip. 

A photograph of the microstructure is given in Fig. 103. 
The author was somewhat surprised to find twinning 
and the secondary type of granular structure with grains 
of a large order. Sensibly parallel lines will be seen 
running across the grains, and these the author presumes 
to represent the boundaries of different layers deposited 
upon the grain from time to time. They may possibly 
be shp-bands brought about by straining during pre- 
paration of the specimen. 

Analysis proved the specimen to be pure copper. It 
would seem that this copper was precipitated during 
corrosion from the concentrated salts of the metal by 
the metallic unchanged bronze, and no doubt the same 
obscure causes that produce twinning in the structure 
of electrolytic copper were operating in this case also. 

It has been explained that small quantities of metals 
present in copper or bronze that are insoluble in these 
metals when solid, will, by existing in the free state as 
globules or layers, tend to set up electro-couples with 
the surrounding copper-rich metal, and thus the alloys 
will be liable to rapid corrosion and disintegration, but 
their effect may be to draw away the corrosive effects 
from the copper to themselves. 

The arrow tip, of which a photomicrograph is given 
in Fig. 104, contained a considerable amount of lead, 
and this, of course, occurred in the microstructure of 
the bronze as isolated globules, but in one-half of the 
photograph they are black, whilst in the other they 
appear in half-tone. The explanation of this is that 
the black globules are those in the interior of the mass 
still metallic and intact, but the grey ones are those near 
the surface that were oxidised and appear pale blue in 


colour on the microsection, whilst the bronze by which 
they are surrounded is still bright and metallic. The 
photograph is included in order to show how in such 
cases the corrosion selectively attacks the lead globules 
in preference to the bronze that surrounds them. 

It should be remembered that antique Egyptian 
coppers and bronzes generally contain varying amounts 
of iron. In specimens left in a cast, '' cored," state of 
microstructure, the iron being in some parts concen- 
trated, the rate of corrosion must be more rapid than in 

Fig. 104. — Microstructure of Bronze Arrow Tip. 

others that were thoroughly annealed, and, therefore, 
hold their iron diffused evenly through the mass. 

For the information of archaeologists and collectors, 
we may mention that the internal structural corrosion 
of metals is an unfailing guide as to the authenticity 
of doubtful antique copper, bronze, and silver objects. 
Imitations of antiquities of all kinds have been brought 
to a high pitch by unscrupulous persons, but although 
external corrosion patinas may be skilfully copied, no 


practical process can be applied to metal objects that 
will reproduce the extensive internal corrosion found in 
examples of genuine antique origin. It is also not im- 
probable that, when the subject has been further studied, 
it will be possible to state, within reasonable limits, from 
the extent of the internal corrosion, the actual age of 
a given article, and this may be of considerable use in 
cases where it is desirable to approximately fix the 
period to which the article belongs when the same is in 

All antique bronze objects are brittle ; some of them 
can be pounded with a hammer. In some cases this 
brittleness is partly due to impurities, such as lead and 
bismuth, but, as a rule, it is the result of the selective 
and intergranular progression of corrosion. Copper 
articles usually retain much more of their original tough- 
ness than bronze ones ; they do not, as a rule, contain 
metallic impurities that would increase their fragility 
when new. Antique silver articles containing copper 
are also brittle, owing to causes previously explained, 
but silver that is almost pure, or which only contains 
gold, is well preserved, except that sometimes in the 
case of thin articles found in Egyptian soil an almost 
complete conversion to argentic chloride has taken place. 
Gold objects retain their original toughness, as the 
metal is not subject to corrosion. If, however, it contains 
much silver, selective attack takes place, and a crust of 
silver chloride is found upon the surface. 




(1) Cleaning and Preservation. 

Amateur collectors and others interested in antiquities 
often find themselves in need of some notes upon cleaning 
and preservation of objects, A valuable bronze or other 
metal curio is likely to be irretrievably ruined by in- 
judicious experiments on cleaning or the application 
of an unsuitable process. In the previous chapter we 
have dealt with the more scientific aspects of the causes 
and effects of decay, and this one will be devoted to hints 
on the means of investigation, the methods of prevention 
of decay, and on the processes of repair available to the 
collector who has not an extensive laboratory at his 

Almost the first difficulty met with by the collector 
is the cleaning of bronzes. Unless they have previously 
been cleaned by a dealer, these bronzes invariably have 
a green or blue oxidised crust of a thickness that varies 
with the age and place of inhumation of the object. 
This crust, usually alluded to as a patina, is not, as is 
sometimes supposed, pure verdigris (carbonate of copper), 
but is of varying composition. On Egyptian bronzes 
it consists largely of oxychlorides of copper, due to the 
fact that Egyptian soil is rich in salt (sodium chloride). 
Under the green patina there is usually found a thinner 


coating of red oxide of copper, which is in contact with 
the bronze itself. In badly oxidised objects all the metal 
is found to have undergone the change to cuprous oxide 
and the green patina. 

The means for the removal of the patina that comes 
naturally to the mind of a person still remembering the 
chemistry of his school days is the use of an acid, but 
it is necessary to exercise much caution in applying such 
processes to metals of great age. Unlike modern metals 
and alloys, all old metals are more or less porous owing 
to the corrosion ; this, besides rendering them fragile, also 
makes them far more susceptible to attack and dis- 
integration by corrosive substances. 

In some museums, especially German ones, bronzes 
have been cleaned electrolytically. The object is 
immersed in an electrolyte consisting of a weak solution 
of potassium cyanide, a feeble electric current passed 
from a battery which breaks down the chlorine com- 
pounds forming the patina. 

The method is applied, with suitable modifications, to 
the cleaning of objects of other metals, but it is much 
too elaborate for the ordinary collector's use, and indeed 
the other simpler methods, over which it has no salient 
advantages, will be found equally satisfactory. 

In some cases where the patina is very thin and of 
agreeable appearance, not masking the fine detail of the 
piece, no cleaning is necessary, but it is essential that 
such specimens, and indeed all metal objects, be kept 
in as dry a position as possible, never being allowed in 
a room where acid fumes are liberated, and not touched 
with the fingers any more than is absolutely necessary. 
In order to prevent, as far as possible, further corrosive 
action by the atmosphere, all metal articles are usually 
impregnated by immersion in molten paraffin wax, the 


surplus wax being wiped off. The leading German 
authority, Dr. F. Rathgen, however, recommends, 
instead of impregnation with wax, the painting of the 
outside with a preparation called Zapon, a solution of 
nitrated -cellulose in amyl acetate. This gives a thoroughly 
waterproof coating to the bronze, which is not too glossy 
in appearance if thinly applied, but it is necessary to 
give a warning against a too general use of this pre- 
paration. In addition to the defect of extreme inflam- 
mability, the gelatinous nitrated cotton (guncotton) 
is liable in the course of time to decompose spontaneously 
and to liberate free acid. This must be injurious to 
antique metals, but the process of decomposition is slow, 
and the Zapon method may not yet have been in use 
sufficiently long for the defect to have become apparent. 
An ideal substance for the impregnation of metal objects 
should obviously be distinctly and permanently neutral 
— that is, neither acid nor alkaline. The wax method of 
impregnation is, however, in more general use, and, so 
long as care is taken to keep the wax free from acid 
it will be found to satisfy all requirements. It is advisable 
to test the molten wax with litmus paper before use. 

It is possible to remove the green crust from many 
bronzes by mechanical means, and this is obviously 
the method par excellence, because there is no immersion 
in acid or other liquid, but it requires great care and 
patience to avoid damage to the detail. The patina 
flies off in small chips under suitable sharp taps from a 
httle hammer, the face of which is chisel-shaped, but 
has a fairly blunt edge. A little practice soon shows the 
most suitable angle for the blow. 

This method is a favourite one amongst curio dealers, 
who are always anxious to clean their objects without 
the risk to the subsequent preservation that immersion 


in any liquid entails. Mechanical removal of the patina 
leaves the object with the pleasing dull brown-red colour 
of cuprous oxide, which seems as if it must be permanent. 
It must be remembered, however, that cuprous oxide 
is much more readily attacked by corrosive substances 
than metallic copper itself, and, therefore, articles cleaned 
in this way are not immune from further corrosion which 
may be brought about by the carbonic acid in the air, 
thus producing verdigris, or initiated by chlorides that 
may be present in cracks, etc., in the metal, thus pro- 
ducing oxy chlorides on the surface ; but it may be stated, 
however, that the possibility of subsequent corrosion or 
decay taking place, is much reduced when bronzes are 
cleaned by mechanical means, provided care is taken 
not to handle them with the naked fingers during mani- 
pulation, and if they are impregnated with wax im- 
mediately after removal of the crust. 

Bronzes for mechanical cleaning must be fairly solid, 
and must have a good foundation of metal. Therefore, 
the specimen should be well examined to make sure 
that the whole of the metal has not been oxidised. 

Some bronzes cannot be cleaned mechanically, and for 
these chemical or electro-chemical means must be used. 
Great care has, however, to be exercised in applying 
them. Any of the common acids might be used as a 
solvent for the patina, but hydrochloric acid is much 
the best, because it has the least action upon metalhc 
copper ; in fact, the metal is generally regarded as 
insoluble in this acid. It is not, as a rule, advisable to 
use it stronger than a 5 per cent, aqueous solution, and 
during the immersion of the bronze, the latter should 
be frequently examined and brushed with a hard bristle 
brush. This removes bubbles of hydrogen which cling 
to the surface, and also clears away any insoluble salts, 


earthy matter, etc., that may be impeding the further 
action of the acid. It is important that the whole 
article be immersed at one time. 

In some cases there are patches of patina which resist 
the action of the acid, and these should be removed 
mechanically with a knife or small hammer after drying. 
The specimen must be taken out of the acid bath as 
soon as there appears to be no further action on the 
patina. It is useless, and indeed very detrimental, to 
keep the bronze immersed in acid for a longer period 
in the hope of removing obstinate patches, which may 
be quite insoluble. 

It is much better to place the object in 5 per cent, or 
even stronger acid, with frequent examinations and 
brushings, than to leave it overnight or for da^^s in a 
much weaker solution without examination. 

After removal from the acid bath, the bronze has 
generally a white coating of copper oxychlorides, which, 
however, disappears in the further stages of the cleaning 
treatment. Much of it is removed by a final brushing 
after removal from the acid bath. 

If the object were simply dried it would speedily 
turn green again, and active corrosion would speedily 
recommence. It is, therefore, necessary to remove all 
traces of acid as far as possible, and this is best done 
by first rinsing thoroughly in water and then boiling for 
half an hour in water containing 0-5 per cent, of soda. 
This turns the colour of the surface to a rather bright 
red, which is unpleasant, and should be removed by 
brushing. The object should next be washed in running 
water for an hour or longer, and afterwards dried by 
heating it for an hour at about 160° F. to expel all 
moisture, and then should be impregnated with paraffin 
wax by immersion in a bath of this material heated until 


white fumes begin to rise, the superfluous wax being 
afterwards allowed to drain off. 

For articles of a thin nature, as, for instance, many 
hollow statuettes which were cast on a core, in which 
the metal exists now mainly as cuprous oxide, no method 
of cleaning will be of service : immersion in acids would 
disintegrate them, and they would not, as a rule, with- 
stand mechanical removal of the patina. In some cases 
acid treatment would give a temporary improvement 
to the outer appearance, but the acid, by permeating 
the porous core, could not be completely removed after- 
wards, and further corrosion would be certain to ensue. 
In one specimen examined, the metal was extremely 
thin and much oxidised, and would certainly not have 
survived until to-day had it not been supported by the 
core, which it would now be a mistake to remove. For 
such bronzes, the only possible treatment is to remove 
such patches of patina and earth as can be easily moved 
with a knife and impregnate with paraffin wax. 

Care should be taken not to handle with bare fingers 
specimens during cleaning, and indeed at any time 
previous or subsequent to impregnation with wax. It 
is advisable to wear gloves, and these also have the 
desirable property of preventing the green tinted finger 
nails which are the despair of amateur collectors who 
do much of this work. 

Immersion in ammonia after the acid process is not 
recommended. It dissolves the cuprous oxide very 
readily, thus often removing much of the finer detail, 
and leaves the surface with a bright, metallic appearance, 
which is not pleasing. In some cases its application 
would quickly ruin the specimen. 

Fig. 105 shows an uncleaned statuette (Grseco-Roman 
period) with its thick green incrustation, whilst Fig. 106 



is a photograph of another similar Greek statuette cleaned 
by the hydrochloric acid process. The Egyptian bronze 

Fig. 105. — Uncleaned Statuette 
as found. 

Fig. 106. — Cleaned Statuette, 

mummy eye was also cleaned in this way (Figs. 107 and 

Fig. 107. — Uncleaned Mummy 

Fig. 108.— Same as 107, after 


A part of the bronze mirror (Fig. 35) was cleaned by 
chipping with a small hammer, the little chips of patina 
flying away readily under sharp glancing blows, leaving a 
thin oxide film with a glossy surface. 

It is a great mistake to attempt to apply artificial 
patinas to cleaned antique bronzes. The extensive 
corrosion prevents the satisfactory application of any 
of the processes used for colouring modern alloys. 

Acetic acid in the form of vinegar may be used for 
bronze cleaning with the addition of a few fragments 
of zinc, and in this method the action is an electro -chemical 
one, a voltaic cell being formed by the zinc and copper in 
contact, but it has no advantage over the hydrochloric 
acid process described. Neutralisation in weak soda 
solution and thorough washing are equally as necessary. 

Instead of vinegar, a weak solution of caustic soda 
is sometimes used, and there is, therefore, in this case, 
no free acid in the bath, but other compounds are formed 
which are just as detrimental and must be thoroughly 
removed by washing. The zinc and copper, too, must 
be in actual metallic contact, which is not always easy 
to arrange. 

If the collector would give a bronze the best chance 
of future preservation, he must endeavour, first, to clean 
it by mechanical means under the precautions laid down 
previously as to handling, and if this does not prove 
satisfactory, he should apply the hydrochloric acid 
method, taking care afterwards to remove all traces of 
acid, and to impregnate it immediately the cleaning and 
drying is finished. 

A word of warning is necessary with respect to the 
cleaning of bronze articles having iron attachments. 
For instance, some little bells have iron wire hammers. 
The latter, however, are entirely oxidised, and exist as 


a barely coherent string of oxide. Cleaning the specimens 
by any immersion process would be certain to ruin them, 
and if it is found necessary to clean the bronze, the iron 
might be protected by painting paraffin wax upon it before 
immersing, even then, however, it should be considered 
whether the removal of the bronze patina would not 
loosen the iron fittings. Unless there is some important 
reason for attempting cleaning, it would be better to 
leave such compound objects in their uncleaned con- 
dition, and simply impregnate them. 

Bronze statuettes are often heavily inlaid with gold 
and silver. In cleaning these objects there is a great 
danger of disturbing the inlay owing to the attack of 
the cleaning medium beneath the gold or silver wire. 
The author has seen some superb examples of this class 
of work cleaned by hydrochloric acid, but when dealing 
with such articles very frequent examination is necessary 
during immersion, and the object must not be left in 
the liquid a moment longer than is necessary. 

It is, unfortunately, sometimes found with bronzes 
that have been carefully cleaned, and even some having 
only a slight patina, and, therefore, not cleaned, that 
some time after being placed in the collection, light green 
patches of corrosion, of an efflorescent nature make their 
appearance on the surface. It is not necessary to re- 
capitulate all the possible causes of this, for they are 
many, but it will be obvious that bronze objects that 
keep well in a dry climate will probably not do so in a 
damp one, or in an atmosphere charged abnormally 
with carbonic acid or with the salt sea breezes of a sea- 
side situation. Impregnation with wax does much to 
prevent further corrosive action of this nature by filling 
up holes and pores, thus preventing access of moisture 
and vapours to the interior, but it does not in any way 


neutralise any corrosive elements which may be present 
within the metal or core, having penetrated during the 
time the bronze was buried, though by preventing diffusion 
it may retard the decay of the metal in a marked manner. 
The only method of any service is to brush off the patina, 
which is floury and non-coherent, with a fairly hard 
brush, remove as much of the paraffin wax as possible 
by heating the specimen, and soak the latter in water 
containing 10 per cent, of soda for two or three days, 
periodically examining it and afterwards brushing and 
rinsing it thoroughly in water, drying and impregnating 
again with wax. 

Practically nothing can be done with regard to cleaning 
bronzes of which the metal is wholly oxidised. These 
are generally thin articles such as bowls and other 
vessels, and hollow statuettes, etc., cast by the cire 
perdu process upon a core. Beneath the green crust 
there is a stratum of cuprous oxide with grains of metallic 
bronze or copper embedded in it, and the latter give an 
erroneous impression of solidarity when the surface is 
filed. A microscopic examination which shows extensive 
intergranular corrosion (described in Chapter V.) pene- 
trating far towards the middle is sufficient evidence that 
it is quite useless applying any cleaning process, as the 
mass which is more or less cemented together would only 
crumble away as the more soluble parts were dissolved 
by the acid, or were broken down if an electrolytic pro- 
cess of cleaning were applied. Articles in this state are, 
however, very permanent, and impregnation will retard 
further corrosion, but there is always the possibility of 
further changes in the cuprous oxide, as it is so readily 
converted to copper carbonate (verdigris) by the carbonic 
acid in a damp atmosphere. 

It is certain that many of the bronzes in our collections, 


in spite of the great care which is taken to preserve them 
in some instances, will not last to another period of time 
equal to that during which they were buried in the ground, 
and it may not be out of place to mention some of the 
causes that have contributed to their preservation up 
to the present time. Primarily, we must remember that 
subterranean corrosion is very much slower than aerial 
corrosion, but many of the Egyptian bronzes, which, of 
course, include many of the oldest specimens in existence, 
when made, were coated with plaster and coloured, in 
spite of the excellent workmanship applied to the metal. 
Figs. 25 and 26 are examples, in which the pittings in 
the surface of the bronze, in order that the plaster should 
adhere, can be seen. It represents the god Osiris, but 
the face was not covered with plaster, as the eyes were 
inlaid with gold. The plaster coating would probably 
act as a preservative for centuries. Again, other objects 
were gilt, and gold being so resistant to corrosion, it pre- 
served the bronze from corrosion until the action was able 
to undermine it by penetrating the various isolated cracks 
and patches of ungilt parts that existed on each specimen. 
According to the testimony of Plutarch, other Egyptian 
bronzes were oiled, in order to produce a pleasing patina, 
and this would also have a protective action for some 
time. In different degrees these various coatings upon 
bronze objects would act as preventives of corrosion, 
but, of course, their effectiveness would be dependent 
upon the care with which they were applied and to the 
treatment the objects received during use. Possibly this 
is one of the reasons that the greater part of the bronzes 
preserved until the present time consist of statuettes and 
other devotional and decorative objects, as the coatings 
would obviously not be applied to copper and bronze 
articles intended for useful purposes. 


It does not often fall to the lot of the average collector 
of Egyptian antiquities to have to clean silver articles, 
but occasionally little statuettes up to three inches high 
and other articles such as finger rings come to hand. 
They are coated with a patina of silver chloride, which, 
though normally white, has turned black by the action 
of light. They may be cleaned by immersion in ammonia, 
thorough washing and drying, and afterwards impreg- 
nated, but if the patina is thickly crusted and warty, 
especially if the object is thin, the whole metal has 
probably undergone conversion to chloride, and in that 
case it would be disastrous to attempt to clean it. It 
should simply be relieved of any adherences of earth 
that can be removed with a knife without damage to 
the form of the object, and then impregnated. 

As a general rule, however, most metal objects con- 
taining silver, also contain copper, and thus they carry 
a green patina, which causes them to be mistaken for 
bronze objects, and to be submitted to the acid cleaning 
process, which, of course, is the most suitable, ammonia 
not being a desirable cleaning agent for old metals 
containing much copper. The author knows a collector 
who obtained for a shilUng or two, three statuettes, 
unrecognisable in their thick green crust, which, after 
cleaning, proved to be rich in silver, of excellent work- 
manship, worth some pounds each. 

Objects of lead are scarce, but sometimes statuettes, 
removable head-dresses, intended for fitting on bronze 
figures, etc., are found, as well as a number of coins of 
Graeco-Roman times. They are covered with a yellowish 
coating of carbonate of lead, which, however, is thin, 
and the corrosion does not penetrate into the interior 
of the metal. The coins especially are often wonderfully 
well preserved considering the softness of the metal. 


The objects may be cleaned in dilute sulphuric acid, 
5 per cent., which converts the carbonate into sulphate, 
and can be easily brushed off, or the hydrochloric 
acid process as used for bronzes may be used. In either 
case, neutralisation for a few minutes in water containing 
J per cent, soda is necessary, followed by thorough 
washing and impregnation with wax. 

Antique iron objects are scarce in Egypt, but it may 
be necessary at times to know of a cleaning process. 
First of all, it must be said that unless the collector is 
absolutely certain that there is a substantial stratum of 
metal beneath the oxidised crust, he must not attempt 
to remove the latter by cleaning. It is unlikely that any 
Egyptian objects dating back previous to 1000 B.C. will 
be sufficiently well preserved to withstand any cleaning 
process. The loose scales on the outside may be removed 
mechanically, and the specimen afterwards thoroughly 
boiled in water, dried, and impregnated with paraffin 

Iron objects of later date may possess a metal core of a 
substantial size, but obviously hydrochloric acid cannot 
be used, as it so readily attacks metallic iron. Probably 
the best method of cleaning is that of Krefting, in which 
the specimen is immersed in a 5 per cent, solution of 
caustic soda in contact with zinc. Thorough washing is 
afterwards necessary, then the specimen should be dried 
and impregnated. 

The cleaning of gold objects is not difficult, as they 
are usually well preserved. Brushing with water is, as 
a rule, sufficient, or, in the case of electrum, there may 
be a deposit of silver chloride, which will need ammonia 
for its removal. 

It is advisable to keep metal objects separate from one 
another in collections, in order to prevent decay being 



communicated. This is not always done in our museums, 
some of which are very crowded. 

With regard to artificial patinas that the ancient 
Egyptians may have sought to produce upon their 
bronzes, it would seem that, in view of the numbers of 
statuettes that were gilt or covered with plaster, and the 
absence in the alloys of intentionally added lead in the 
earlier dynasties of which examples now exist, they did 
not endeavour to influence the nature of the patina by 
modifications of composition. They would, of course, 
be well aware of the differences of colour produced by 
adding various amounts of tin to copper, of silver to 
gold, and of copper to silver, but whether they eventually 
added lead to bronze to produce certain types of patina, 
or simply to cheapen and ease the working of the metal, 
there is nothing to show. There is, however, evidence 
that great pains were taken in later times to produce 
pleasing colour effects upon the works in bronze, and the 
Egyptian statues received the admiration of the Greeks. 
It is not without interest to quote the following passage 
from " Plutarch's Morals " (translated by Mr. C. W. 
King, M.A.), which shows that the surface of the bronze 
was oiled and left exposed to the atmosphere, which 
together gave a result that drew admiration from men 
who were acquainted with the choicest works of art of 
ancient Greece. 

" The sight and artistic merit of the statues did not 
so much attract the notice of the visitor, who had in all 
likehhood seen many fine things of the sort elsewhere ; 
but he admired the colour of the bronze, which was not 
like dirt or verdigris, but shone with a dark blue dye, so 
as to contribute considerably to the effect of the statues 
of the admirals (for he had begun his round with them), 
standing, as they did, sea like, as it were, in colour, and 


truly men of ocean deep. Had there been then, he asked, 
some mode of alloying and preparing the bronze used 
b}^ the ancient artificers, like the traditional tempering of 
swords, which process being lost, then bronze obtained 
exemption from all warlike employments ? For it is 
known that the Corinthian metal acquired the beauty 
of its colour, not through art, but through accident, 
when a fire consumed a house containing a little gold 
and silver, but a great quantity of bronze stored up 
there, all which being mixed and melted together, the 
preponderating part, by reason of its largeness, originated 
the name of bronze." 

" What then," asked Diogenianus, " do you say has 
been the cause of the peculiar colour of the bronze in 
this place ? " and Theon replied — " Inasmuch as of the 
greatest and most natural things that are and shall be — 
namely, fire, water, earth, air — there is not one that 
comes near to, or has to do with the bronze except air, 
it is clear that the metal has been thus effected by this 
element, and has acquired the peculiarity which it 
possesses by reason of this being always about it, and 
pressing upon it ; you know, surely, that this once took 
place in the case of Theognis, according to the comic 
poet ? But what property the air has, and what influence 
it exerts in its contact with the bronze — these are two 
things, Diogenianus, that you desire to learn ? " and 
upon Diogenianus assenting : " So do I, my dear boy ; 
therefore, if you please, let us investigate the matter 
in concert ; and as a beginning — for what reason does 
oil, above all other liquids, coat bronze with verdigris, 
for it does not generate the verdigris simply by being 
rubbed over the metal, because it is pure and clear when 
applied to the surface." "By no means," replied the 
young man, " does this seem to me to be the reason ; 


but because the oil being thin, pure, and transparent, 
the verdigris faUing upon it, is very perceptible, whereas 
in other liquids it becomes invisible." " Well done, my 
dear boy," said Theon, " but examine, if you please, 
the reason that is assigned by Aristotle." " I wish to do 
so," rephed he. " Aristotle, therefore asserts that 
verdigris, if put upon other hquids, runs through them 
and is dispersed, because they are porous and fluid, 
whereas it is arrested by the solidity and density of the 
oil, and remains collected in a mass. If, therefore, we 
can ourselves devise some hypothesis of this kind, we 
shall not be entirely at a loss for some charm or cure 
against the present difficulty." 

" Thus then," said he, " did we pronounce and agree, 
that the air at Delphi, being dense and compact, and 
receiving tension from the repercussion and resistance 
of the surrounding mountains, is at the same time biting 
and penetrating, as the facts about the digestion of food 
clearly evince ; this air, then, by reason of its subtile 
quality, enters into and cuts the bronze, and so scrapes 
off verdigris in plenty, and that of an earthy nature, 
which again holds suspended and compresses, because 
its own density does not allow of its unlimited diffusion, 
but on the contrary permits it to settle down by reason 
of its abundance, and to bloom, as it were, and get 
brilliancy and polish over the surface," and upon our 
admitting this, the visitor said the one supposition (of 
the density) was sufficient for the explanation. " The 
subtile quality," said he, " would seem to contradict 
the asserted density of the air ; and it is assumed without 
any necessity ; for the bronze does of itself emit and 
discharge the verdigris, whilst the density of the air 
compresses and thickens it, and makes it visible in con- 
sequence of its abundance." 


Some of the reasoning as to the properties of oil and 
verdigris may seem to us quaint, but the article makes 
it clear that patinas were produced, not by immersing 
the metal in acid or special chemical solutions as we 
do to-da}^, but simply by applying an oil over the surface 
and leaving the atmosphere to do the rest. 

(2) Repairing, 

The collector occasionally finds it necessary to repair 
bronzes. A statuette may be broken or incomplete when 
obtained, or a breakage may occur during cleaning, and 
although the collector himseK will probably not be in a 
position to do metal working himseK, it is well that he 
should know the general principles upon which it should 
be done when deahng with antique specimens, as the 
jeweller or artisan to whom he many entrust the job, 
although perhaps perfectly skilled in his craft, may be 
quite at sea when treating fragile objects of great age. 

With the exception of some gold and a little copper 
work, no ancient Egyptian metals and alloys retain any 
of their original toughness. The majority of specimens 
are absolutely brittle, and will withstand little or no 
mechanical treatment. This brittleness is not wholly 
due to corrosion, but in some cases, also to the original 
composition of the metal, such as copper and bronze 
containing bismuth, or gold containing bismuth. The 
filed surface is often very misleading, giving a bright 
metallic appearance even when intergranular corrosion 
has permeated the mass and rendered it exceptionally 
fragile. In some cases the form of the fracture gives a 
better guide as to the state of the metal than the filed 
surface : the specimen does not bend at all, but snaps, 


leaving the fractured surface dull red in colour, or some- 
times grey if much lead is present. 

When about to do repairs, the chief point to remember 
is, therefore, that all old Egyptian metal objects are 
fragile, and should be treated with extreme care. The 
methods of repair must be very cautious ones, and it is 
always wise to ascertain that the workman realises the 
extreme fragility of the metal notwithstanding its 
apparent sound appearance externally. 

The types of repair that most frequently occur are the 
joining of two or more broken parts, such as a damaged 
leg or arm of a statuette, or the casting and fitting of a 
new part to replace one broken off or lost, in order that 
the object shall have something approaching its original 

For making joints, it would be obvious that brazing 
is out of the question, because of the high temperature 
employed, which the old metal would not resist. Soft 
soldering can sometimes be used, but owing to the 
oxidised state of the bronze or copper, the solder often 
does not hold, and, therefore, makes a poor jointing 
medium for this work. Also, the solder being of a very 
different colour from the bronze, it is not easy to make it 
inconspicuous. Almost any acid painted on the solder 
in the joint will make it black, but it must be carefully 
applied, and the specimen afterwards well washed, dried, 
and impregnated with wax. 

The fluxes generally used for soldering bronze and 
brass are zinc chloride and borax. For antique objects, 
probably the last-named is the least objectionable. 

The repairing of small statuettes under about 6 inches 
high requires more skill and care than work on larger 
specimens, because an error in the jointing of even so 
little as rh inch is sufficient to disturb the anatomical 


correctness of the modelling, and many of these figures, 
although so small, are exquisitely proportioned. Thus a 
layer of solder intervening the fractured surfaces of a 
limb would be sufficient to make the repaired leg too 
long unless the figure were a rather large one. On the 
whole, the soldering of joints is, however, not recom- 
mended for several reasons. Firstly, as explained pre- 
viously, soft solder adheres very imperfectly to old 
bronze and copper ; secondly, soldering entails the use 
of fluxes which are of a chloridic or acid nature, and 
are, therefore, liable to initiate further corrosion of the 
specimen ; and, thirdly, soldering is not at all easy to do 
neatly and to render invisible afterwards. 

When the fracture is a recent one, the two broken 
surfaces can generally be fitted together quite closely 
and correctly, and if a very thin cementing medium be 
used the joint is barely perceptible. Very thin mediums, 
however, have not the advantage of great rigidity, and 
the repaired specimen would not stand much handling 
afterwards. In many cases, the jointing of such fractures 
by a solution of shellac in methylated spirit will suffice, 
or with seccotine, although the latter is not waterproof. 

As a rule, broken articles should be tlioroughly cleaned 
before repairs are taken in hand, and to insure that 
fractured surfaces will afterwards fit together correctly 
they should be protected from attack by the acid, and 
for this a little molten wax can be brushed over the 

Whenever possible, it is advisable to give additional 
strength to the joint by fixing a central pin to connect 
the two parts, a hole being carefully drilled in each piece 
and the pin cemented or wedged in. 

The fragility of antique bronzes renders attempts at 
absolutely perfect jointing unnecessary. For instance, 


in the case of a hollow statuette broken into two parts, 
the filling up of each with plaster (removing any core 
present), and a substantial central metal pin connecting 
the two, would do, the crevice round the joint being filled 
in afterwards with a cement of similar colour to the 
original metal. 

Alloys of low melting point, such as those that melt 
in boiling w^ater, would seem to possess advantages for 
filling up broken and damaged bronzes, but they should 
not be used, as they invariably contain bismuth, which 
causes the alloy to expand during solidification, and 
this would probably crack or break the old bronze. 
The author has successfully used a dental amalgam of 
mercury with 25 per cent, cadmium for such work ; 
it melts in boiling water, is plastic when warm, and sets 
very hard afterwards. 

A bronze of superb finish or much interest is often 
marred by a deficiency of some part or limb that has 
been broken off and lost ; the time and money spent 
in fixing another one is well spent, but the operation is 
one requiring some care and skill, more especially because 
an intimate acquaintance with antique works of art 
is sometimes necessary in order to insure that the new 
part shall be. correct in form. It should, of course, be 
remembered that with collectors the object of making 
such replacements is not to deceive the beholder, but 
merely to render the specimens as complete as they were 
in their original state, and it is, therefore, necessary that 
the added parts should be similar to the originals both 
in colour and in the state of the surface of the new metal. 

In such a repair, the first point to decide is what metal 
to use for the new part. The answer is — an alloy of a 
composition approximating to that of the original. For 
instance, for a copper object use copper, and for bronze 



a copper-tin alloy, though for the latter copper would 
do also, and for brass a copper-zinc alloy. It is not 
desirable to use brass for an addition to a bronze object, 
as the patina of the latter cannot be so readily imitated 
upon brass as on bronze. The new part should be cast 
with a rough surface similar in appearance to that of the 
original, so that when coloured there will not be a great 
difference in outer appearances. This is easily arranged 
for in moulding. 

It will generally be necessary to file off the broken 
surface of the fracture, so that the joint will be a flat 
one. Before jointing, the new part should be coloured 
to match the original as nearly as possible, and below 
is a list of processes which are available for producing 
various colours on different alloys : — 

Colouring Brass. 
Method A. — Olive green. 

Red ammonium sulphide, . . .5 fluid ozs. 

Water, 1 gallon. 

Warm and immerse the object. 

Method B. — -Green. 
Water, . 
Cream of tartar, 
Salt, . 
Nitrate of copper, 

1 gallon. 
\ oz. 
li oz. 
3 ozs. 

Method C— Black. 

Dissolve as much copper as possible in strong nitric acid. Dip 
the article, and then heat strongly but gradually ; allow to 
cool slowly. 

Colouring Broxze and Copper. 
Method D. — Brown to black. 

Liver of sulphur, . . . . . | oz. 

Water, 1 gallon. 

The length of time of immersion or heating the solution affects 
the depth of the colour. 


Method £.— Black. 

As method C for brass. 

Note. — Metals for colouring must always be cleaned and freed from 
grease, etc., by dipping in a solution of 4 ozs. potassium cyanide in a gallon 
of water, then washed before immersion in the colouring bath. Specimens 
must not be touched with the bare fingers. If the first attempt is not 
satisfactory, dip again. 

Fig. 109. — Repaired Statuette of Isis. 

A repair was made to the statuette of the goddess 
Isis shown in Fig. 109. When received the figure was 
minus feet and legs, the bottom portion having been 
broken off from the knees and lost. Luckily a spare 



pair of feet that had belonged to a similar statuette 
were at hand, and it was, therefore, only necessary to 
make a casting of the remaining portion of the legs. 
This was done in bronze, afterwards blackened to match 
the original by the use of Method C. The joint was 

Fig. 110. — Repaired Casting. 

made with soft solder and afterwards blackened by 
painting with nitric acid in which much copper had 
been dissolved. 

Fig. 110 shows the result of another repair, one which 
called for rather more care and trouble than the average. 


In this case part of the beak of the Ibis was missing 
from the part marked X. The bronze was much corroded, 
but the green patina was thin, and so no cleaning process 
was appHed. A casting of the end part of the beak was 
necessary, but it was doubtful whether the metal of the 
original part was sufficiently strong to support the weight 

Fig. 111. — Broken Lion Headed God. 

of the new part if cast solid in bronze. The latter was 
therefore, cast with a rough surface in aluminium with 
a central projection to penetrate into the hollow head, 
and afterwards a coating of copper was electrolytically 
deposited upon it. The two joining surfaces were filed 



flat and the head was filled with plaster of Paris, to secure 
the projection attached to the beak. Afterwards the 
added part was painted with ammonia, then lightly 
with a mixture of methylated spirit, copper carbonate, 
and shellac, and the result was so satisfactory that the 
joint was quite hidden, and the new part could not be 
distinguished from the old. 

Another example of a repair made by the author is 
the small figure of the hon-headed god shown in 
Fig. 111. When received this object had ahead}^ been 
cleaned, but had been broken, one 
leg being broken off in two parts, 
whilst the other leg had been broken 
off some time before and imperfectly 
soldered on again. The photograph 
shows it in this state. Fortunately, 
the two fractures were fresh ones, 
and the surfaces were preserved, thus 
fitting together accurately, but the 
lower part (foot) could not be used 
again. Therefore, a new foot had to 
be made, and this was done by filing 
one to shape out of a piece of antique 
bronze and fitting to the leg piece. 
The method of making the joints was 

as follows : — A hole was drilled in each piece, and also in 
the body, and an iron pin was fitted so as to support each 
joint centraUy. The leg portion containing the two pins 
and the new foot are shown in Fig. 112. The cementing 
medium was a mixture of seccotine and copper carbonate, 
which makes a very useful green cement for such purposes 
where the green colour is suitable. In other cases, w^here 
objects are black or red in colour, lamp black or Venetian 
red dry paint may be substituted for the copper 

Fig. 112. — Prepared Foot 
and Pinned Joints. 


carbonate. A mixture of seccotine with one of these dry 
substances sets very hard, but, of course, is not water- 
proof. As a rule, this is not a drawback, but if a water- 
proof medium is required, then a thin solution of shellac 
in methylated spirit can be used with one of the dry 
powders mentioned. 

When the new foot was shaped it had, of course, its 
metallic lustre, and it was necessary to give it a patina 
to resemble as closely as possible the original body. 
This was done by painting with a 10 per cent, solution 
of liver of sulphur, which produced a black patina, and 
afterwards a little copper carbonate was dusted over 
the joints, in order to hide them, and the surplus wiped 
off. This was quite in harmony with the original, which 
was of black appearance relieved with small patches of 

The previously existing joint made with solder was 
not interfered with, but the crevice was filled up with 
dark green cement, and thus rendered almost invisible. 
The result of the repair is shown in Fig. 113. It is inter- 
esting to observe that, although a fresh foot has been 
added, the whole object is still antique. 

Although it is desirable to apply imitation antique 
patinas on parts added to bronzes, this should not be 
extended to metal stands and wire frames used to support 
objects in collections. It is done in the Louvre, Paris, 
but is misleading, because it causes the visitor to think 
the support is part of the original object. 

Sometimes a collector desires to know whether a metal 
object is bronze or copper. This can generally be in- 
ferred from the colour, and a filed part of the object 
(an unimportant position being, of course, selected) should 
be compared with the colour of a freshly filed piece of 
known copper. If, however, the tin content is not large 



or the old metal is much corroded, this means of ascer- 
taining is not applicable, and in such cases a fragment 
should be broken from the object, the oxidised part 
filed away, and dissolved in a 25 per cent, solution of 
nitric acid, carefully warming, if necessary, to complete 

Fig. 113. — Repaired Lion-Headed God. 

soliftion. If tin is present, it will be left as a white (some- 
times greyish) insoluble precipitate at the bottom of the 
vessel. As tin and antimony are the only two metals 
likely to leave this precipitate, and antimony is not 


present in Egyptian bronzes to any appreciable extent, 
the test gives a fair guide as to whether a sample is 
bronze or copper. Sometimes, however, the precipitate 
may appear grey if gold is present, because nitric acid 
leaves the latter as a black powder. It may be said that, 
as a rule, with copper containing more than 2 per cent, 
of tin, the latter is present as an intentional ingredient, 
and not as an impurity. This proportion of tin leaves 
a very noticeable precipitate after attack by nitric acid 
if a half -gramme sample is taken. As a rule, however, 
real antique bronzes always contain more than 5 per 
cent, of tin, and antique copper generally under 1 pet 



Abrig, 35. 

Abydos, 90. 

Adze, 94, 115. 

Ageing, 68. 

Ahmose I., 10. 

Alexander, 17. 

Alexandria, 99. 

Alloys, Types of antique, 145. 

Amenhotep, 11. 

Amon, Priests of, 12. 

Analysis of copper dagger, 146. 

■ • strip, 68. 

— iron beads, 89. 

Annealing, 18, 64, 66, 68, 129, 135, 

145, 155. 
Effect of, 140, 148, 149, 150, 

Antimony, 32. 
Antique alloys, 145. 
Arabian period, 24. 
Arabs, 19, 20. 
Archaic period, 24. 
Arrow-head mould, 55. 
Arrow points, 58. 

tip. Bronze, 172, 178. 

tips, 60, 104. 

Arsenic in copper, 66, 80, 125. 
Asia, Gold from, 25. 
Assyrians, 15. 

Art of, 20. 

Athens Museum, 58. 
Axe, 115, 117, 118. 
Axe-head, 169. 
Microstructure of, 151. 


Battle axes, 59, 118. 

Beads, 32, 85, 89. 

Beating, 62. 

Beeswax, 37. 

Bellows, 120. 

Bells, Bronze, 98. 

Bismuth in copper, 78. 

Black pyramid, 90. 

Blowpipe, 120. 

Bow-drill, 94. 

Brass, 32, 126, 127. 

Brazier of Khety, 77. 

Brazing, 62, 69, 74, 121, 160. 

British Museum, 57, 58, 74, 77, 99, 

Brittleness of objects, 197. 
Bronze, 7, 21, 29. 

Age, 4. 

arrow tip, 172, 178. 

axes, 59. 

• bells, 98. 

• chisels, 104. 

— — Corrosion of, 65. 

Detection of, 206. 

Gold in, 82. 

— handles, 106. 

— — • Hardening of, 35, 78. 

hinges, 102, 121. 

• industry, 34. 

— jar, 159, 170. 

ladle, 158. 

Lead in, 30, 76. 

Metallography of, 130. 

mirror, 71, 176. 




Bronze, Modern, 77, 

mould, 55. 

nails, 120. 

pot, 152, 173. 

■ specimens. Dating of, 82, 83. 

statues, 76. 

vase, 49, 50, 64. 

weights, 30. 

Welding of, 62. 

Eudge, Dr. E. A., 55, 86. 
Byzantine style, 19. 

Cairo Museum, 12, 14, 15, 20, 31. 

36, 55, 81, 109. 
Calamine, 32. 
Carvings in stone, 103. 
Casting, 9. 
Casting runners, 45. 

• Struts for, 39, 106. 

Castings, Cored, 35. 

Cerussite, 32. 

Charcoal, 81. 

Chasing, 72, 73, 76. 

Chisel marks on stone, 109, 110. 

Chisels, 15, 54, 104, 111. 

Copper, 34. 

Flint, 118. 

for stone, 119. 

for wood, 119. 

Use of, 104, 119. 

— — • Wrought-iron, 111. 
Christianity, Introduction of, 18, 
Cire perdu process, 37, 42. 
Cleaning, 181. 
Cleopatra, 17. 
Coffins, Lead, 31. 
Coinage, 16, 18, 
Collapsible stand, 72, 73. 
Coloured plaster, 58. 
Colouring baths, 201. 
Colours used for metals, 103. 
Cooling, Effect of rate of, 129. 
Copper, 6, 11, 18, 24, 26, 27, 30. 

■ Arsenic in, 80, 125. 

• axes, 59. 

■ Bismuth in, 78, 132. 

chisels, 104. 

Copper, Corrosion of, 65. 

dagger, 59, 146, 164. 

Analysis of, 34, 146. 

furnace, 81. 

graver, 166. 

Hardening of, 35, 78, 105. 

■ hinges, 102. 

Impurities in, 125. 

Iron in, 80. 

knife, 150. 

lead alloys, 132. 

nail, 60, 120, 168, 

nickel alloy, 126, 

ores, 27, 28. 

Precipitated, 176. 

razor, 61, 150, 

rivet, 156. 

Riveting of, 36. 

saw, 115. 

silver alloys, 130, 131. 

strip, 65, 66, 119, 145, 149. 

Analysis of, 68. 

utensils, 84, 

Welding of, 62, 

— — - -zinc alloy, 126. 
Coptic metal work, 19. 
Copts, 18, 

Core markings, 147, 148, 
Cored castings, 35. 

— — in Egypt, 104. 

in Greece, 104. 

Cores, 38, 54, 126, 132, 164. 

Corrosion, 65, 162. 

Cracking, 135. 

Crete, 21. 

Crucible, Egyptian, 81. 

Crystal iDOundaries, 136. 

grains, 123, 129, 156. 

Crystallites, 124, 131. 

Cuprous oxide, 132. 

Curelly, Mr. C. T,, 81. 

Cutting edge, Microstructure of, 151 

Cyprus, 30, 

Dagger, 34, 59, 146, 164. 

copper. Analysis of, 34, 146, 

Dates of Dynasties, 24. 



Dating of bronze specimens, 82, 83. 

of periods, 22. 

Deformation by hammering, 133. 
Diorite, 104, 109. 

statue, 87, 88. 

Drill, 114. 

Dynasties, Dates of, 24. 

Egyptian history. Outline of, 1 
Electro-chemical cleaning, 184. 
Electrum, 26, 36. 
Empire Period, 10. 
Enamel, 36, 84. 
Engraving, 72, 73, 76. 
Equilibrium in alloys, 128. 
Etching, 141. 

reagents, 143. 

Ethiopians, 15. 
Eutectic, 130. 
Eyes, 36, 58, 187. 

First Intermediate Period, 24. 
Flaws, Repairing of, 75. 
Flint chisels, 118. 
Florence Museum, 103. 
Flow lines, 154, 159, 170. 
Fluxes for soldering, 198. 
Founding, 72. 
Fuel, 81. 
Furnace, Copper, 81. 

Galena, 32. 

Gate, 37, 45. 

Gebel Rusas, 31, 32. 

Gizah, 90. 

Glass, 84. 

Glazes, 84. 

Gold, 6, 7, 10, 11, 18, 21, 24, 25, 27. 

Beating of, 62. 

from Asia, 25. 

handles, 121. 

in bronze, 82. 

Gold inlay for eyes, 58. 

mines, 24. 

ring, 152, 153. 

washing, 25. 

Goldsmith's work, 6. 

Gowland, Professor, 26, 29, 35, 89, 

90, 108, 111. 
Grabham, Mr., 106. 
Grseco-Roman art, 19. 
— Period, 18, 21. 
Grains, Crystal, 123. 

Growth of, 138, 156. 

Size of, 129. 

Granite, 7, 87, 88, 104, 109. 

sculptures, 103. 

Graver, 106, 166, 174. 
Greece, Iron in, 101. 
Greeks, 16, 17, 18, 20. 
Grinding of metals, 71. 
Growth of grains, 138, 156. 
Guns, Rusting of, 99. 



Hammer hardening, 78. 

Hammering, Effect of, 133. 

Hammers, Stone, 117. 

Handles, 118. 

Hardening, 65. 

— — by hammering, 78, 105. 

• of bronze, 35, 78. 

of copper, 35, 78. 

Hard stone carvings, 103. 

Hatsheput, 10. 

Hieroglyphics, 92, 93. 

Hinge, 102, 121, 171. 

History, Outline of Egyptian, 1. 

Homogeneity in alloys, 128. 

Honey, 37. 

Horus, 42, 48, 53. 

Hot working of metals, 66, 150, 155. 

Hume, Dr. W. F., 85. 

Hyksos, 10. 

Ibis, 204. 

Imitations of antiquities, 179. 
Ingots, 25. 
Intermediate Periods, 24. 



Inlaying, 73, 106. 
Iron, 9, 22, 24. 

Age, 85. 

chisels, 104. 

in copper, 80. 

in tombs, 101, 109. 

nails, 120. 

objects, 89. 

— ores, 28, 85. 

Reduction of, 106, 108. 

Religious objections to, 101. 

rust, 97, 99. 

Scarcity of, in Egypt, 106, lOP. 

■ strikers, 98. 

struts, 98, 106. 

tools, 15. 

Use of, 60. 

in Syria, 106. 

Isis, 42, 202. 

Japan, Iron in, 108. 
Jar, Bronze, 159, 170. 
Jasus Valley, Lead in, 32. 
Joints, Metal, 62. 


Karnak, 10. 

Lake of, 83. 

King, Mr. C. W., 194. 
Knives, 119, 120. 

Copper, 34, 150. 

Koramama, 58, 

Ladder, 120. 

Ladle, Bronze, 64, 158. 

Lake of Karnak, 83. 

Lance tips, 60. 

Later Intermediate Period, 24. 

Lead, 18, 24, 32. 

globules, 161. 

headdresses, 31. 

in bronze, 30, 76. 

■ workings, 32. 

Limestone, 104, 109. 
Lion-headed god, 204, 207. 
Louvre Museum, 48, 53, 57, 77. 
Luxor, 83. 
Lvbians, 15. 


Macedonian rule, 20. 
Macedonians, 17. 
Mallets, 118. 
Manetho, 6. 
Manganese ores, 28. 

in Sinai, 32. 

Maspero, Sir Gaston, 21, 79. 
Mechanical cleaning, 184. 
Mediaeval prescriptions, 84. 
Medum, 35. 
Metal beating, 62. 

grinding, 71. 

Loss of, 82. 

polishing, 71. 

Metallography, 122. 

of bronze, 130. 

Metals, Colours used for, 103. 

Sources of, 24. 

Microscope, 123. 
Microstructure of axe-head, 151. 

of bronze ladle, 158. 

of bronze pot, 152, 159. 

of copper dagger, 147, 148, 165. 

• of copper knife, 151. 

of copper razor, 150. 

of copper rivet, 156. 

of copper strip, 149, 155. 

of cutting edge, 1 52. 

of gold ring, 153. 

of silver bead, 156. 

of silver- copper statuette, 158. 

of twisted brass, 155. 

Middle Kingdom, 24. 

Mines, 9, 10, 24. 

Mirror, Bronze, 71, 176, 

Model of carpenter's shop, 114. 

Models, 103. 

Modern bronze. Hardening of, 79. 

Mortise joint, 52. 

Mould, Bronze, 55. 

for arrow tips, 56. 



Mould, Open, 54. 

Stone, 55. 

Moulding material, 43, 46. 
Moulds, 34. 
Mummy eye, 187. 
Museum, Athens, 58. 

British, 57, 58, 74, 77, 99, 100. 

■ -Cairo, 12, 14, 15, 20, 31, 36, 

55, 81, 109. 

• • Florence, 103. 

Louvre, 53, 57, 77. 

Nail, Copper, 60, 168. 
Nails, 120. 
Needle, 94. 
Nile delta, 99. 
Nubia, 10. 
Nubians, 15. 

Obelisks, 10. 

Old Kingdom, 24. 

Open moulds, 54. 

Osiris, 58, 59, 157, 158, 166. 

Oxides of metals, Use of, 84. 

Paints, 84. 

Patina, 76, 82. 

Patinas, Artificial, 194. 

Pedestal, Mould for, 55. 

Persians, 16, 17. 

Petrie, Prof. Flinders, 38, 40, 77, 

90, 92, 112. 
Phoenicians, 27. 

Piupi, Statue of, 7, 8, 36, 37, 41, 104. 
Plaster, 58. 

of Paris, 44. 

Plough, 94. 
Plumb line, 120. 
Plutarch, 82, 191. 
Polishing, 144. 
of metal, 71. 

Pot, Bronze, 173. 
Preservation, 181. 
Priests of Amon, 12. 
Ptolemaic Period, 17, 24. 
Pyramids, 90, 111. 


Raising of metal, 18, 62, 72, 136. 
Rameses II., 11, 12. 

IV., 12, 13, 47, 52. 

Rasps, 15. I 

Rathgen, Dr. F., 183. 

Razor, Copper, 61, 150. 

Recrystallisation, 136, 155. 

Reduction of iron, 106, 108. 

Refining gold, 26, 

Relief polishing, 144. 

Reliefs, 103. 

Religious objection to iron, 109. 

Repair of pot, 161. 

Repairing, 74, 197. 

Repairs, Methods of, 75. 

Repousse work, 72, 

Rivet, Copper, 156. 

heads, 121. 

Riveting of copper, 36. 
Rivets, 120, 171. 
Roman occupation, 18. 
— Period, 17, 24. 

vase, 69. 

Romans, 19. 

Runners, 45. 

Running- on process, 63, 75. 

Rusting of iron, 110. 

Rate of, 99. 

Saitic Period, 16, 17. 
Sarcophagus, 66, 67, 
Saw, Copper, 115, 
Saws, 15. 



Scales, 120, 

Scarcity of iron in Egypt, 106. 

Scissors, 120. 

Scrap metal, Use of, 162. 

Secondary grains, 136, 138. 

Serabit, 81. 

Silver, 7, 11, 18,21,26. 

bead, 156. 

bowl, 70. 

• in gold, 25. 

inlay for eyes, 58. 

— Microstructure of, 123, 124. 
Silver-copper alloy, 124, 132. 

statuette, 157. 

Sinai, 9, 28, 30, 32, 81, 85. 
Slip'- bands, 134. 
Smelting furnace, 81. 
Snake croAvia, 44. 
Soldering, 62, 69, 74, 198. 
Solid solutions, 125, 130. 
Sothic cycle, 23. 
Spinning, 70. 
Stand, Collapsible, 72, 73. 
Statue in diorite, 87, 88. 
Statues, 76, 87. 
Steel, 111, 112. 
Stone, 109. 

■ Age, Termination of, 4. 

• Chisel marks on, 109, 110. 

• ■ Cutting of, 94. 

hammers, 66, 117. 

mould, 55. 

• quarries, 7. 

• statues, 87, 88. 

Strains, 138. 

Struts for castings, 39, 74. 
Sudan, Reduction of iron in, 107. 
Syria, 11,21,26, 100, 106. 

-^ Invasion of, 9. 

Syrians, 15. 

Tanis, 12. 
Theban Period, 9. 
Thebes, 112. 
Thoth, Bronze, 50. 
Thutmose III., 10. 
Tin, 7, 28. 

finger ring, 29. 

Tools, 113. 

Wear of, 117, 

Turquoise, 7, 28. 
Tuyeres, 81. 
Twinning, 136. 

Vase, Bronze, 49, 50, 64, 69. 
Vases, Roman, 158. 


Wadi Abu Jerida, 85. 
Walters, Mr. H. B., 100, 101. 
Washing of gold, 25. 
Waste wax process, 37, 42. 
Weapons, 58. 
Wear of tools, 117. 
Weighing scales, 120. 
Welding, 62, 69, 121. 

of copper, 36, 160. 

Wire drawing, 70. 
" Work," 66, 170. 
Wrought iron chisels. 111. 

Zapon, 183. 
Zinc, 18, 126. 


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Ancient Egyptian metallurgy, by 

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